Pandas in the Wild
April 24, 2018
After 15 cumulative months of living in China for my PhD research, I finally found my current holy grail of wildlife sightings – giant pandas!
On a typical frozen sampling day looking for fresh feces, this particular one at 10,000 feet elevation on the forested slopes of Niutoushan (Oxhead Mountain), one of my guides spotted a wild giant panda cub resting in a tree.
We crept uphill for a better look, and I soon heard the popping sounds of the mother chowing down on bamboo. I climbed a tree myself, and gazed down on the mother in the dense bamboo just 15 feet away from us! She ambled upslope deeper into the dense bamboo, and I was left awestruck and giddy at this amazing fortune. We observed the cub for a little longer before quickly gathering some fresh feces and leaving the area.
With continued effective conservation, I hope that this most ancient of living bears will continue to exist in the mist-shrouded mountains of southwest China for generations to come, and grant the occasional lucky soul a glance of them in their element.