cover image The Rarest of the Rare: Vanishing Animals, Timeless Worlds

The Rarest of the Rare: Vanishing Animals, Timeless Worlds

Diane Ackerman. Random House (NY), $23 (184pp) ISBN 978-0-679-40346-3

For several years, Ackerman (A Natural History of the Senses) has traveled to remote places to see rare animals and threatened ecosystems. In each case, she observed animals in their natural habitat and worked with dedicated scientists in the field. Here, she focuses on three animals, two ecosystems and the migration of the monarch butterfly (``an endangered phenomenon''). Her account is a sparkling combination of natural history, travel and adventure. Ackerman visited the last refuge of monk seals on French Frigate Shoals in Hawaii and the final stronghold of short-tailed albatrosses on Torishima, a tiny volcanic island south of Tokyo. She joined a group of scientists who restore the golden lion tamarind to its native habitat in the Mata Atlantica region of Brazil. Ackerman then examines the ecosystems of the Amazon and Florida scrublands and ends this rewarding journey in the company of entomologists in Florida. Author tour. (Oct.)