It was 1911, and the Union of South Africa was awash with rumor and suspicion. It was said that there was a turncoat who had deserted the Ministry of Agriculture to sell secrets to a shadowy syndicate of American capitalists. South Africa had only been autonomous—as a dominion of the British Empire—for about a year. Any disruption to a major industry could be very damaging to the fledgling country.
In response, the parliament authorized a clandestine expedition to the Sahel, the semi-arid region south of the Sahara. The expedition was led by Russell Thornton, a veteran of the Boer War and two other “competent experts.” The alleged traitor? None other than Thornton’s brother, Earnest, a former employee of the Secretary of Agriculture.
Their mission was to secure a flock of ostriches—by any means necessary.