DELIA Owens is the author of Where the Crawdads Sing, which was brought to life in a 2022 film of the same name.
Outside of her writing career, she was known for running the Owens Foundation for Wildlife Conservation with her ex-husband, Mark, who is reportedly wanted for questioning in the killing of an alleged poacher.
Who is Delia Owens' ex-husband Mark Owens?
Mark is known for his career with the Owens Foundation for Wildlife Conservation and moved to Africa in 1974 with Delia to help protect elephants from poachers in Zambia's North Luangwa National Park.
Due to their cause, the former couple was given authority over local scouts by the Zambian government to help keep poachers from the elephants.
"We know it's a risk,'' Mark told PEOPLE in 1988.
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''But we've fallen in love with this place, and we're willing to take that risk."
Their story was later told in an ABC documentary titled, Deadly Game: The Mark and Delia Owens Story, which aired in March 1996 and featured Diane Sawyer and Meredith Vieira.
The couple is also widely recognized for publishing the books Cry of the Kalahari and The Eye of the Elephant.
Despite the Owens' rise to fame in the 1990s, Mark has stayed out of the spotlight in recent years and it remains unclear what he is up to today.
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Why is Mark Owens reportedly wanted for questioning by Zambian authorities?
In the 1996 documentary, ABC included the filmed murder of an alleged poacher who was reportedly executed while lying collapsed on the ground.
Shortly after the documentary aired, it sparked an investigation by Zambian police and the former couple returned to the United States and have not been back since.
In July 2022, The Atlantic published a story that revealed that Mark, Delia, and Chris Owens, Mark's son from a previous marriage, were still wanted by Zambian national police for questioning in relation to the poacher's death, according to a Zambian government spokesperson.
"There is no statute of limitations on murder in Zambia," Lillian Shawa-Siyuni, Zambia's director of public prosecutions, told The Atlantic.
"They are all wanted for questioning in this case, including Delia Owens."
In the article, The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg details his visit to North Luangwa, where he talked to sources about the case and learned more about the Owens' operation in the country.
He also obtained a letter from P. J. Fouche, a professional hunter, which was allegedly faxed to him by Mark, and read: “To date I have flown eight airborne antipoaching operations over your area, including four in which I inserted scouts on ambush.
“Two poachers have been killed and one wounded that I know of thus far, and we are just getting warmed up.”
Mark added: “Anything you can do to help keep our anti-poaching efforts alive in your area will, I guarantee, pay big dividends for your safari business, and very soon. On that note, would it be possible for you to bring back as much ammo as you can: 12 gauge 00B, 30.06, 300, 7.62 short (AK), and some cracker shells (for pest control)?”
According to Goldberg and a statement from a Zambian government spokesperson, Zambian authorities are still interested in bringing charges for the 1995 killing.
However, Mark, Chris, and Delia have all denied any involvement in the case.
When asked about the killing in a 2010 article that Goldberg published in The New Yorker, Delia said: “We don’t know anything about [the killing].
“The only thing Mark ever did was throw firecrackers out of his plane, but just to scare poachers, not to hurt anyone.”
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She added: “Chris wasn’t there. We don’t even know where that event took place. It was horrible, a person being shot like that.”
Mark also commented on the letter at that time, saying: "‘We are just getting started’ did not mean that anyone was just getting started shooting poachers, but only that we had just begun fielding antipoaching patrols in that area.”
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