Environmental photographer and writer Kyle Obermann’s project ‘Beyond the Smog: Backcountry Conservation in the Hengduan Mountains’, will take him on a nine-month journey of exploration and environmental documentation along the full length of one of China’s wildest and most scenic landscapes. This year’s WildChina Explorer Grant is focused on the importance of sharing your exploration with others and after completing his project, Kyle will return to Beijing where he will work with us to create a journey to the Hengduan Mountains for all to enjoy.
Dongrui Yu’s on a quest to promote the importance of preserving China’s starry night sky. His project, Finding Our Lost Stars took him back to where his passion to protect the night sky began – his home province of Yunnan. He traveled through the region and captured around 10,000 photos and multiple time-lapse videos to create a star map of the province.
The trip not only promoted awareness of his cause but will also become an important part of his plan to find the perfect location for a dark sky reserve in Yunnan.
For the past two years, Ricky has been producing and directing a feature-length documentary about the Mosuo people, China’s last matriarchal society.
Hovering between the borders of Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, his pioneering project took him on a month-long trek via horse caravan to some of the most remote and least documented places in the lower Himalayas.
Heli’s expedition was into the wilderness of Xinjiang in search of the rare Tianshan Snow Lotus. The Tianshan Snow Lotus is held in reverence by the Kazakh and Uighur people and takes five years to bloom, growing at altitudes as high as 5000m. The flower has been subject to overexploitation due to health benefits in traditional Chinese, Uighur, and Tibetan medicine. Heli found the lotus in bloom on the rocky slopes of China’s northwest.
In 2012, the WildChina Explorer Grant was awarded to two entries. Backpacking through remote Sichuan, Shanghua Zhang gained access to communities of Tibetan monks and attended prayers at the Yaqing Monastery. During his time in the backcountry, Zhang visited the Chaqingsongduo Nature Reserve in hopes of spotting China’s elusive white-lipped deer. Although the animal eluded him, he hopes to return to the region one day.
The second finalist of 2012 was William Bleisch, who ventured to Yunnan’s Ailaoshan Provincial Nature Reserve with the aim of establishing a new trekking route along the ridgeline of the Ailao Mountains to connect with other established routes north of Dali. The program director for the China Exploration and Research Society, William had previously researched China’s black-crested gibbons, and hopes that the creation of a trail connecting existing gibbon habitats can result in a continuous stretch of forest to help preserve the species in future
In its first year, the WildChina Explorer Grant was awarded to Canadian explorer and writer Jeff Fuchs, together with British entrepreneur and endurance athlete Michael Kleinwort. Fuchs and Kleinwort traveled on foot along the most isolated and little-known stretch of the Tsalam route in Qinghai, also known as the salt road, where the commodity was traded through the remote eastern Himalayas by Tibetan nomads. In line with Fuchs’ desire to bring Asia’s long lost trade routes to light, they documented the stories of the few elderly nomadic traders who still remember travel and trade along the Tsalam.