In 1992, in a remote mountain range, a team of scientists discovered the remains of an unusual animal with beautiful long horns. It turned out to be a living species new to western science - a saola, the first large land mammal discovered in 50 years.
Rare then and rarer now, no westerner had glimpsed a live saola before Pulitzer Prize finalist and nature writer William deBuys and conservation biologist William Robichaud set off to search for it in the wilds of central Laos. The team endured a punishing trek, up and down whitewater rivers and through mountainous terrain ribboned with the snare lines of armed poachers.
On this episode of Locus Focus, our first show since the government takeover by Trump and his cabal of environment and human rights enemies, we talk with William deBuys about his journey in search of the saola and how with Trump now as president, like the saola we may all start feeling endangered.
Writer and conservationist William deBuys is the author of seven books, which range from memoir and biography to environmental history and studies of place, and include ENCHANTMENT AND EXPLOITATION: THE LIFE AND HARD TIMES OF A NEW MEXICO MOUNTAIN RANGE; RIVER OF TRAPS; SALT DREAMS: LAND AND WATER IN LOW-DOWN CALIFORNIA; SEEING THINGS WHOLE: THE ESSENTIAL JOHN WESLEY POWELL; VALLES CALDERA: A VISION FOR NEW MEXICO’S NATIONAL PRESERVE; and THE WALK. His shorter work has appeared in Orion, The New York Times Book Review, Doubletake, Story, Northern Lights, High Country News, Rangelands, and other periodicals and anthologies.
DeBuys has long been active in environmental affairs. His efforts have led to the permanent protection of over 150,000 acres of wild lands in North Carolina and the Southwest. From 2001 to 2004 he served as founding chairman of the Valles Caldera Trust, which administers the 89,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve under an experimental approach to the management of public lands. Today he lives on the farm he has tended since 1976 in the remote village of El Valle in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains between Santa Fe and Taos.
Read Bill deBuys' latest TomDispatch piece, published Thursday morning, "How to Hijack an Election," about the election manipulations that have brought into the Oval Office "someone modeled on the character of a medieval prince: narcissistic, volatile, cruel, deceitful, and as vulnerable to manipulation by flattery as by insult.” Think of the column as companion reading for the inauguration, and please post and retweet it, if you do that kind of thing, as widely as possible.