By Dermot O’Gorman, CEO WWF-Australia
It’s a day I will never forget.
It’s 3am and pitch dark in the Shaanxi province in central China. Instead of being warm and snug in bed, I’m braving winding, bumpy roads in the Minshan Mountains. For two very long hours. Then it’s another two hours of arduous hiking on foot, up into the core reserve of pine and bamboo forests.
Into panda country.
I’m there to see something rarely seen – a panda in the wild. Researchers can spend ten years studying pandas and still not see a panda in the wild.
I figure being with one of China’s leading panda scientists will help my odds. Being in an area which has a high density of pandas in the wild will also help.
By 7am, we’re on a grassy knoll. For over an hour we sit and enjoy the beautifully still landscape high up in the mountains. And then he simply appears.
A young, male panda on his way up the mountain to escape the rising heat of the day.
We watch him – and he watches us. A gentle moment.
Words cannot describe the elation I feel. We’ve seen a panda in the wild!
It’s this snapshot in time, this beautiful memory that I draw upon over the next seven years as I work to protect our world’s endangered species and their habitat.
It motivated me as CEO in WWF China to helpestablish 1.6 million hectares of panda habitat to protect these iconic animals.
And I’m drawing upon that panda experience right now – as I sit here working in a panda onesie.
Yep – You heard right. A panda onesie.