Monday, September 22, 2008

Pan Wenshi and the White-Headed Langurs

Rachel and I returned from the PRC to the People's Republic of Cambridge about a month ago, however, a story I reported over the summer just came out in today's New York Times.

It Takes Just One Village to Save a Species

Published: September 22, 2008

CHONGZUO, China — Long ago, in the poverty-stricken hills of southern China, a village banished its children to the forest to feed on wild fruits and leaves. Years later, when food stores improved, the children’s parents returned to the woods to reclaim their young.

To their surprise, their offspring had adapted to forest life remarkably well; the children’s white headdresses had dissolved into fur, tails grew from their spines and they refused to come home...Click here for full story copyright, New York Times.

Story Behind the Story

Perhaps China's greatest environmental success story to date, this was also a really fun piece to report. The Nongguan Nature Reserve with its mind bending karsts and tropical forests is absolutely amazing, and I got to experience it with Rachel who was able to join me for my visit.

I'd known of Pan's prior work with pandas for some time but hadn't heard what he'd been up to recently, until a good friend visited the reserve and told me I really ought to check it out. Thanks for the tip, Ollie!

Check out the following video I shot in the Chongzuo Eco-park and hear Pan tell how alpha males patch themselves up after bloody battles with other males.

Langur and landscape photos used with permission from Peking University Chongzuo Biodiversity Research Institute



  1. I caught your article in the NY Times. Pan's work is truly inspirational. Further proof that one person can truly make a difference in this world. We need more people like him. Thank you for sharing his story.

  2. Phil! This is great stuff. Glad to see it appear on the LU home page too:


  3. Awesome, Phil! Fun to stay on top of your adventures via your blog. With fond memories, the Krolls

  4. Phil, I work with Seacology and wonder if I may introduce you to the organization.
    Andrea Schnoor,