First appeared as “Adventures in Panda Land” in the October 2018 issue of Air Canada enRoute.
Our guide Tang Bing comes to a sudden stop next to a large rock face in the Min Mountains of Western China. After hours trekking alongside small streams and waterfalls through the lush temperate forests of the Laohegou Nature Reserve, I haven’t seen much beyond one venomous Jerdon’s red spotted pit viper hiding in the grass. But now Tang points at the ground with his kandao, a hooked machete that excels at hacking off wayward tree limbs. Hopefully not another snake, I think. As I move closer, he reveals his discovery: a brick‑sized pellet of poorly digested bamboo shoots, otherwise known as panda poop. Wild panda poop.