cover image The Last Unicorn: A Search for One of Earth’s Fairest Creatures

The Last Unicorn: A Search for One of Earth’s Fairest Creatures

William deBuys. Little, Brown, $27 (368p) ISBN 978-0-316-23286-9

Conservation journalist deBuys (A Great Aridness) deftly takes the role of a quiet observer while conveying a sense of immersion and intimacy as he documents a 2011 expedition for signs of the saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), led by field biologist William Robichaud. A phylogenetically distinctive, preternaturally peaceful, reclusive, and nearly extinct ungulate entirely unknown to Western science until 1992, the saola is so rare that it does not even appear in traditional Chinese medicine. In Nakai-Nam Theun, a remote region of Laos on the border of Vietnam, the team drills bits of bone from old antler mounts, places camera traps at salt licks, and scans the forest for evidence of neatly munched vegetation. Showing much admiration for Robichaud and the relationships he has built with the community, deBuys shares stories of the challenging interactions between the locals and Robichaud the outsider, doing so with humor. With a wilderness-loving voice that is lyrical but never saccharine, deBuys elicits a sense of mystery and beauty befitting the creature itself. Maps & photos. [em]Agent: Melissa Chinchillo, Fletcher and Co. (Mar.) [/em]