The Salma Option - the idea....
This is a slightly extended version of the Author's Note that I've included in the paperback and Kindle editions of the novel, in that it provides links to the publications I used for reference, as well as sites pertinent to the story. Click on the images if you would like to visit them.
I confess I'd never heard of Zakouma National Park until I read Poached, journalist Rachel Love Nuwers' cracking account of her investigation into the world of wildlife trafficking. I'd been looking for an idea for a new adventure for some time and I thought the unsolved murders of the Zakouma Park rangers might form the basis of a story in which I could bring back the characters from my earlier pre-Hawkwood novels.
It was during the course of my research that I came across the links between the Chadian government, Sudan's Rapid Support Forces, and, more pertinently, the Janjaweed militia, and, perhaps, to my mind, one reason why the Zakouma killers were never brought to justice.
But then, maybe I was seeing a conspiracy were none existed and maybe it was just a series of coincidences. Either way, it made for an intriguing premise, prompting the question I'd asked myself whenever I was thinking of penning a new book: what if..?
As for the rest...
The Golden Kingdom Casino Resort and its founder are fiction in name only. Should anyone feel the sudden urge to delve into the novel's background and familiarize themselves with the real locations and some of the individuals portrayed in the story, all they need to do is Google: Golden Triangle Special Exclusion Zone and their curiosity will be rewarded. Or, as mentioned above, click on the above image.
In other instances I've used real names where I considered them to be appropriate and relevant to the plot. They include the conservation organizations mentioned, in particular the Bangkok based Freeland, which does sterling work, aided by the Thai police, in fighting wildlife crime.
As well as the Rachel Love Nuwer book referred to above (Rachel was the journalist who dressed up as the Eastern European hooker in order to infiltrate the real Golden Kingdom), I highly recommend two more publications which provided me with additional background detail. They are: Killing for Profit by Julian Rademeyer and Blood of the Tiger by J.A. Mills.
There are numerous websites devoted to wildlife conservation and the illegal trade in wildlife species; too many to list here. What set me on the trail of the Golden Triangle SEZ was the video produced by the EIA (Environmental Investigation Agency - https://eia-international.org) which takes you inside the real Golden Kingdom complex.
It was made a few years ago but it's viewable on YouTube under the title: Sin City: Illegal wildlife trade in Laos’ Special Economic Zone.
At the time of writing the resort is still in operation.
Information on the extracurricular activities of Sudan's Rapid Support Forces can be found on the Global Witness website: https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/conflict-minerals/exposing-rsfs-secret-financial-network