Photographer Dongrui Yu has been named the winner of the 2016 WildChina Explorer Grant. Yu will be using the grant to create the first-ever photographic map of the night sky in Yunnan province.
Yu’s exploration proposal, Finding Our Lost Stars, was selected as the winner by a panel of esteemed judges including Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler, China’s pioneering wildlife photographer Xi Zhinong, COO of China’s no. 1 travel community website Qyer.com Jinghui Cai, 2014 WildChina Explorer Ricky Qi and WildChina founder Mei Zhang.
‘Yu’s project stood out as no one has set out to map the night sky in China before’ says Mei Zhang. ‘It is a very creative way of bringing attention to an important developmental issue. Urbanization often spurs thoughts of air pollution, but many overlook the effects of light pollution.’
Yu’s collaboration with WildChina will take him back to where his passion to protect the night sky began – his home province of Yunnan. He will travel through the region and capture around 10,000 photos and multiple time-lapse videos to create a star map of the province. He will be broadcasting updates live from the road via WildChina’s Facebook, Instagram, Weibo and WeChat channels so he can share Yunnan’s beautiful night sky with the world.
The trip will not only promote awareness of his cause but will also become an important part of his bigger plan – to find the perfect location for a dark sky reserve in Yunnan.
‘The WildChina Explorer Grant is more than just a grant,’ says Yu. ‘It is an invaluable platform to voice your ideas and gain support for a project. Without the grant, I would still continue to pursue my passion but with it I can make so much more of a difference.’
WildChina partnered with TOMS Shoes, Gregory Mountain Products and The Royal Photographic Society to provide the full prize pool for the 2016 WildChina Explorer Grant competition. Dongrui Yu was also awarded The Royal Photographic Society’s prize for best photograph submitted as a part of a proposal. Rock Climber Ryder Stroud was the winner of the People’s Choice Award for the most votes of support via Social Media. Photographer Aaron Berkovich and journalist Beth Walker walked away with Soulful Explorer awards courtesy of TOM Shoes.