The sound of cuckoo’s calls in April always reminds me of the old good days. On one sunny day after the rain, several fiends and I went to Sanguannxiao at Qinling Mountains to visit the grave of Zeng Zhou, the first man to die while conducting panda fieldwork. Sanguannliao is a part of Foping Nature Reserve in Shaanxi province, which has the greatest density of giant pandas in the wild. Along the road we saw giant panda feces and part of bamboo for panda feeding. Due to no road access, the location was almost isolated, Yet about three hours of horseback riding and hiking, we finally arrived at the preserved station in Sanguanliao.
Liu Xiaobin, the head of station, received us.He has done fieldwork for over 27 years and out of those, the last 6 he has been in charge of the station. He expressed deep gratitude and honor to take us to visit Zeng Zhou’s grave. Spring’s beauty was in full-bloom, and our walk was enchanted by the smells and sights of beautiful cherry blossoms,willows and many kinds of wild flowers on this mountain. Zeng Zhou’s cemetery was about 600m away from the reserve station, and on the walk I reflected on how I wished to pay my honor and respects to Zeng Zhou through continually cleaning his grave site.
After Zeng Zhou graduated from Peking University he pursued further education as a graduate student. In pursuit of giant panda fieldwork he joined professor Pan Wenbi to Sanguannaiao. However at night while he was searching for the brown giant panda, he slipped and fell off a cliff. When he fell, his watch broke and stopped, signaling that his life ended at 20:25 on April 17, 1985. In his bag, there were collected giant panda feces and he wrote some words in his notebook, “On April 17, there was By…” His ended too short, at the age of 21 years old.
Perhaps as time has passed, we have forgotten Zeng Zhou’s sacrifice for giant panda protection. During 1984’s National Day parade at Tian’anmen Square, hung the now infamous banner “Hi Xiaoping”, of which Zeng Zhou was one of the designers.His father graduated from the Philosophy Department of Peking University but suffered immense humiliation during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Zeng Zhou and his father had just begun the new good days symbolized by the banner “Hi Xiaoping”, which was an honest expression of millions people’s feelings and concentrated thousands of words for two generations.
In 1986, I met Zeng Zhou’s father at a giant panda protection conference in Hanzhong, Shaanxi. His speech was accompanied with his tears. Afterwards when we met, as a result of his immense sadness and dried tears on his face, I was unsure of how to act. He said that,”we are father and son, also good fiends. So I understand his choice”.
Zeng Zhou’s grave is located near the patrol road. Chinese white pines surround the small grave and a tombstone, which was established by Foping Nature Reserve.
We placed dowers at his grave, saluted him and paid a tribute. In a moment of silence in my mind I told Zeng Zhou, “I wanted to come to visit you since I visited your father that day We are good friends although we never meet each other. Zeng Zhou, I want to tell you that, the giant panda protection has attracted a number of young people. The 46 National Giant Panda Census just , there are thousands of young people and most of them are the only child. There is even a young father who lost his son in the May 12, 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.
They are not a kind of hail, heavy snow torrential rain, dangerous sandbars, landslides debris flow. It took us three years, but we have investigated the number of wild giant pandas. The number has increased by 16.896, and there are 1,864 giant pandas currently living in the wild. I always miss you when I see the young people working for pandas.
For the past thirty years ago, giant panda protection has already achieved great success. Zeng
Zhou, you must feel happy!”
On the patrol road, we heard the sound of steps and soon met three men, to whom we greeted. Since the 1980s, seven brown giant pandas have been discovered in Foping Nature Reserve. Qnling Mountains still hold many unknown seats.
On the way back to the reserve station, we repeated the words written on Zeng Zhou’s grave, “We win love this land more when thinking about you!”
That evening there was a spectacular sunset in the forest, accompanied with the cuckoo’s song.
The head of station, Liu told us that at that moment there were only flowering azaleas in the low mountains, but that soon mountains everywhere would be kind with these beautihxl Rowering shrubs.
I stood on the stone steps at the reserve station, the cuckoos calls the mountains. Not far away from there, the Dong River ran through countless mountain passes, rough terrain and sang a forgotten Song.