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2017 Winner: Kyle Obermann
Environmental photographer and writer Kyle Obermann has been named the winner of the 2017 WildChina Explorer Grant. Kyle will use the USD$5000 travel grant to explore China’s Hengduan mountain range and be the first-ever to comprehensively document the conservation work of local environmental groups.
Kyle’s exploration proposal, Beyond the Smog: Backcountry Conservation in the Hengduan Mountains, was selected as the winner of the grant by a panel of esteemed judges including Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler, Great Wall Expert William Lindesay, World Traveller Magazine Editorial Director & Chief Photographer Lei Zhang, WildChina founder and CEO Mei Zhang, and 2016 WildChina Explorer Dongrui Yu.
Kyle’s collaboration with WildChina will seek to amplify the voices of local conservation efforts though the sharing of bilingual stories and images from the field across both Chinese and English language social media channels. This year, for the first time, Obermann will also get access to the award-winning travel company’s local networks and knowledge to help him turn his expedition into a unique tour in China for all to enjoy.
2016 Winner: Dongrui Yu
For the past 4 years Dongrui has been on a quest to promote the importance of preserving China's starry night sky. His collaboration with WildChina 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.
2014 Winner: Ricky Qi
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.
2013 Winner: Heli
Heli's expedition into the remote wilderness of Xinjiang in search of the Tianshan Snow Lotus pushed the boundaries of Chinese exploration in its examination of the beauty and fragility of the region's natural environment.
2012 Winner: William Bleisch
William Bleisch ventured to Yunnan's Ailaoshan Provincial Nature Reserve with an aim to establish a new trekking route along the ridge-line of the Ailao Mountains. The route would connect existing gibbon habitats and help preserve the species.
2012 Winner: Zhang Shanghua
Backpacking through remote Ganzi Prefecture in Sichuan, Shanghua Zhang was welcomed into local homes. He gained access to communities of monks and was invited to attend prayers at the revered Yaqing Monastery.
2011 Winner: Jeff Fuchs
Together with British endurance athlete Michael Kleinwort, Jeff traveled on foot along the most isolated and little-known stretch of the salt trading route in Qinghai and documented the stories of the elderly, nomadic traders.