With over 5000 votes cast, the public have chosen this year’s 5 WildChina Explorer Grant finalists. Their fates now lie in the hands of the judges. Let’s meet the panel:
Lonely Planet Founder, Tony Wheeler
Since co-founding Lonely Planet after a trip across the world in 1972, Tony Wheeler has become a world pioneer in experiential travel. His dedication to venturing beyond the boundaries of conventional travel has led to him authoring and editing numerous Lonely Planet guides as well as travel books such as Bad Lands and Unlikely Destinations.
Wildlife Photographer, Xi Zhinong
One of China’s first wildlife photographers and conservationists Xi Zhinong has spent more than 30 years in the wild, capturing images of rare wildlife. Xi was the first person to capture the endangered Yunnan snub-nosed monkey on film. As a regular contributor to National Geographic China, he has since created a number of high profile documentaries that raise public awareness about environmental conservation and endangered species in China. Read our full interview with Xi Zhinong here.
COO of Qyer.com, Jinghui Cai
After collaborating with Tony Wheeler to bring Lonely Planet to China, Cai continues to make solo exploratory travel more accessible to Chinese travelers through Qyer.com, China’s number 1 travel media site. He is the author of Fall in Antarctica, the first travel book on Antarctica written in Chinese and as worldwide traveler himself, Cai regularly contributes to Chinese travel publications.
Photo by dotour.com
WildChina Founder and CEO, Mei Zhang
Mei founded WildChina in 2000 and has built the company into one of the ‘World’s BEST Adventure Travel Companies’, according to National Geographic Traveler. Her pioneering travel philosophies and passion for in-depth discovery has made WildChina a trend-setter in its field. Read our full interview with Mei here.
WildChina Explorer 2014, Ricky Qi
National Geographic filmmaker and photographer Ricky Qi won the WildChina Explorer Grant in 2014 to pursue his dream of documenting the lives of the Mosuo people of Lugu Lake, China’s last matriarchal society. His expedition took him on a month-long trek via horse caravan to some of the most remote and least documented places in the lower Himalayas. Read our full interview with Ricky here.
With application standards at an all-time high, the judges this year have a difficult decision to make. Projects proposed by this year’s finalists include creating a star map of Yunnan Province, documenting the culinary traditions of China’s minority cultures, and attempting to establish new rock-climbing routes in China’s western regions. Each project aspires to make unprecedented findings within its field through exploration.
‘Every year we are so inspired by our applicants’ passion for exploration and their desire to dig deeper and travel further,’ says Mei Zhang. ‘The quality of applications this year has astounded us and it brings me great pleasure to support this exciting next generation of explorers.’