Pandas in the Wild

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April 24, 2018

Thomas Connor is a PhD candidate studying with Jack Liu. His fieldwork takes place in and around Wolong, China.

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.

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