Do you use memes when messaging your friends? In China, all kinds of interesting memes have become a must-have tool for young people using WeChat. For example, this year’s WPY award-winning photo “The Moment” has become a meme tagged “a perfect description of me when checked on by my boss”.
Many other memes have been created in regard to this photo of a marmot and a Tibetan fox.
Joking aside, “The Moment” is not for entertainment purposes. According to its photographer Bao Yongqing, the marmot in the picture had already spotted the fox. But the fox was stationary and the marmot ventured out of its burrow for food. It was at that very moment the fox suddenly rushed forward. Bao captured both the humor and terror in “The Moment,” artistically showing the law of the jungle. The shot took nearly three months’ waiting, and won him recognition as the Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) 2019.
As early as 2016, another photo taken by Bao, also capturing a marmot, was awarded the first prize in the nature category of the National Geographic Photo Contest in China region. Both of his photos were taken on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the same place where Chinese photographer Fan Shangzhen took his award-winning and nominated photos of this year’s WPY.
Qinghai province is the home of two pilot national parks, including the region known as the Sanjiangyuan (source of three rivers) and the Qilian mountain range. With its high sensitivity to climate change and rich biodiversity, Sanjiangyuan National Park is of utmost importance in ecological conservation. Over a period of many years, the ecology in this region has been greatly improved due to grassland restoration and strengthened supervision, providing a better living environment for wild animals and gradually achieving a complete food chain. Endangered species such as leopard, snow leopard, and Chinese grouse are being spotted more often these days.
By establishing national parks, China integrates ecological conservation with sustainable development, sparing no effort to pass on the valuable natural heritage to future generations. These efforts are now reaching far beyond the top-level design. Public welfare organizations, volunteers, and local residents are all doing their part to protect ecological environment and contribute to the harmonious coexistence of human beings and nature.
While a startled marmot on this occasion has drawn world-wide attention to Qinghai province, there will surely be more “marmot memes” emerging on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with the further development of national parks.
Beyond a meme: the life and death moment of a Tibetan fox and a marmot