CHENGDU, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- Giant panda enthusiasts have tangled with nature while successfully retracing the journey of the French missionary who made the giant pandas known to the West 140 years ago.
Twenty Chinese hikers spent 10 days following in the footsteps of Pere Jean Pierre Armand David, who described a giant panda that had been shot by hunters in Ya'an, Sichuan Province, in 1869.
Hiker Liu Wanying from Beijing said she was lucky to be alive, after being attacked by wild bees and stung five times while climbing a mountain. She was treated at a hospital before rejoining the group.
"The experience was unique and now I know how to protect myself in the wild," she said.
"The activity showed us how hard the panda breeders have been working," said Li Guoqing, who came from Ya'an.
Coming from 15 provinces across China, they registered for the activity initiated by the tourism bureau of Sichuan and set out from Chengdu, the regional capital, on Aug. 15.
They arrived at the destination of Ya'an Bifengxia Breeding Base on Tuesday after walking 350 kilomters and then saw Ling Ling, a male adult panda, at the base.
"We hope, through the activity, to raise awareness of environmental protection and invite more people to join in the protection of endangered giant pandas and other wild animals," said Zhu Tong, a member of the expedition from Hubei Province.
About 1,590 pandas live in the wild in China, mostly in Sichuan and the northwest provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu. Another 180 have been bred in captivity, including 88 pandas in Ya'an and 56 outside Sichuan Province.