Renowned photographer, Luo Hao, set out on an ambitious 12-year journey to capture the diverse flora and fauna of the Himalayas. Driven by a desire to document the natural beauty of his hometown, the man in his late 50s dug into his own pockets and led a team on a mission to photograph the precious wildlife found in every nook and cranny of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The result of their arduous trekking and exploration is a collection of hundreds of thousands of photos, including some that are the first recorded images of previously undocumented plants and animals in the region.
Despite the extreme conditions and death-defying close calls they faced on the plateau, Luo believes that all the hardship was worth it when his photography collection, Top of the World, finally made its public debut. The collection aims to shed new light on the unique flora and fauna found around Qomolangma, also known as Mount Everest in the West. “I started planning the book in 2015 and it took eight years for it to see the light of day,” Luo explains.
However, their expedition was halted in 2015 by the devastating earthquake that struck the Nepali capital, Kathmandu, which borders Tibet. This caused them to postpone their trip for three years, but Luo and his team persevered and eventually succeeded in capturing the stunning landscapes and wildlife of the region.
Luo’s collection of photographs is a testament to his dedication and passion for nature photography, showcasing the unique biodiversity found in the Himalayas. Through his work, he hopes to inspire others to appreciate the natural beauty around them and take action to protect it.
The Top of the World collection not only highlights the stunning natural wonders of the region, but also serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving our planet’s biodiversity. Luo’s project demonstrates the power of photography to inspire and educate, providing a window into the natural world for those who may never have the opportunity to experience it in person.
After restarting in 2018, the investigation continued for another three years but was interrupted by the pandemic. However, despite setbacks, the team was ultimately successful in their mission to photograph the flora and fauna of the Himalayas. According to Luo Hao, who led the project, they managed to capture everything they had set out to photograph, including ten new species found around Qomolangma.
The book, titled Top of the World, sheds new light on the unique wildlife found around Qomolangma, also known as Mount Everest in the West. It contains hundreds of thousands of photos, including some of the first recorded images of some of the region’s stunning plants and animals. Luo and his team went to great lengths to capture these images, trekking to every nook and cranny of the Tibet autonomous region.
Despite facing extreme conditions on the plateau and even death-defying close calls, the team persevered, and the photography collection made its public debut. The book was eight years in the making, with Luo beginning to plan it in 2015. The project was delayed due to the devastating earthquake that hit Kathmandu, forcing the team to cancel their trip and postpone it for three years.
the long journey was worth it for Luo and his team. Top of the World showcases the beauty and diversity of the Himalayan region’s flora and fauna, including previously undiscovered species. The project serves as a testament to the perseverance and dedication required to achieve a long-term goal, and the importance of capturing the beauty of the natural world for future generations to appreciate.
Tibet, often associated with blue skies, snowcapped mountains, and yaks, holds a more microscopic world that few have seen. Luo, however, has recognized this world for some time and hopes to bring it to more people’s attention. He believes that the unique climate, altitude, wind, and sand conditions in Tibet have made the region’s ecology more fragile, requiring public attention.
In 2010, Luo founded the Tibet Biodiversity Image Conservation with a combination of sponsorships and his own money. He gathered a team of ecological experts, photographers, and volunteers to raise awareness about the natural beauty of Tibet. Despite not being a biologist, Luo saw an opportunity to contribute to nature in his own way through his photography and journalism background.
In the winter of 2010, Luo and his team embarked on an expedition along the northern slope of the Himalayas, traversing several regions from the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon to Ngari prefecture via Basum Lake. They studied a wide variety of creatures, including animals, plants, insects, birds of prey, and aquatic life. The team conducted extensive research on paper and planned their routes in the most economical and time-efficient way, accounting for factors such as the time they would spend at each site and how many creatures they aimed to find.
With a mission to document the biodiversity of Tibet, the team worked like a big crew, capturing tens of thousands of photos along the way. Despite being aware of the importance of their mission, they remained conscious of their budget, calculating everything in advance to stay on track.
Luo’s team’s effort is part of a broader movement to raise awareness about Tibet’s fragile ecology. By bringing attention to the microscopic world and its significance to the region, they hope to encourage more people to act in support of conservation efforts. The Tibet Biodiversity Image Conservation serves as a testament to the impact that can be made when individuals work together towards a common goal.
Luo sees himself as a director, guiding his team to capture the best possible shots of the creatures they encounter. Their expedition takes them through the eastern part of the Himalayas, where the team captures the excitement of seeing red gorals, leopards, and Zorotypus medoensis in the forest and subtropical rainforest-dominated region.
As they move towards the central Qomolangma, the team shifts their focus to the Alpine plants and animals. They are particularly drawn to the Himalayan blue poppy and seek to capture the beauty of this unique flower.
In the western part of the Himalayas, specifically in Ngari prefecture, Luo and his team encounter wild yaks, lynxes, and Apollo butterflies. Despite their small size, the team is amazed by the butterfly’s ability to survive at an altitude of 4,500 meters above sea level, where the wind is often too strong for a person to stand.
Luo and his team have a particular focus on rare and endangered creatures. They understand the importance of documenting these creatures in images as a foundation for future research. They believe that preserving these images can help future generations understand the beauty and significance of these creatures living at high altitudes.
Through their expedition and documentation of the biodiversity in Tibet, Luo and his team hope to raise awareness about the importance of preserving these fragile ecosystems. They understand that humans are small in comparison to nature and that it is crucial to protect the endangered species that call these regions home. By showcasing the beauty of these creatures and their habitats, they hope to inspire others to take action and preserve these critical ecosystems for future generations.
Luo’s team faces many dangers during their endeavors to find and document rare creatures in Tibet. In 2011, while exploring the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, the team was attacked by hornets after a photographer’s cigarette smoke disturbed their nest. Luo describes these hornets as “as big as three bees, and three to five times as poisonous.” Unfortunately, a photographer was badly stung and had to be taken to the hospital, which was a two-hour drive away.
Despite the danger they face, the team continues to push on in their pursuit of documenting Tibet’s biodiversity. While navigating through the rugged terrain, they experience land collapses and landslides. However, they manage to avoid any serious injuries.
For Luo, the hardships that they face during their expeditions are just part of the journey. Despite these challenges, there is always something that inspires him to keep going. He remains focused on his goal of capturing the beauty and significance of Tibet’s fragile ecosystems and the creatures that inhabit them.
The team’s findings will be presented in books that will feature vivid photographs and scientific texts. These books will serve as a testament to the team’s hard work and dedication in documenting the rare and endangered species that call Tibet home. Through their work, they hope to raise awareness about the importance of protecting these critical ecosystems and inspire others to take action.
Luo and his team are committed to their mission of preserving and protecting Tibet’s unique biodiversity. They understand the dangers they face during their expeditions, but they remain focused on their goal of documenting the natural beauty of Tibet. By sharing their findings with the world, they hope to inspire others to take action and protect these fragile ecosystems for future generations.
The books that Luo’s team will publish will not only be beautiful, but also educational. “We want the books to appeal to a wider audience, from children to adults, so they can learn about Tibet’s ecology in an interesting and engaging way,” Luo says. He hopes the books will encourage more people to understand and care about Tibet’s biodiversity.
Luo also hopes his work can help break stereotypes about Tibet. While many people associate Tibet with its picturesque landscapes, he wants to highlight its lesser-known aspects, such as the rich variety of plants and animals that inhabit the region. He believes that promoting awareness of Tibet’s ecological diversity is key to its preservation.
“We want to increase public attention and support for Tibet’s ecological environment, so we can better protect it for future generations,” Luo says. By sharing his team’s research and findings, Luo hopes to inspire people to take action and make a difference.
Through his work, Luo has also recognized the important role of local communities in protecting Tibet’s biodiversity. He believes that by involving local people in conservation efforts, they can become active participants in preserving their own environment.
“We want to work with local people, and not just tell them what to do,” Luo says. He believes that by engaging with local communities, they can better understand their needs and concerns, and work together to find solutions that benefit both people and the environment.
Overall, Luo’s work with the Tibet Biodiversity Image Conservation is a testament to his passion and dedication to preserving Tibet’s unique and fragile ecosystems. Through his books and other initiatives, he hopes to inspire others to take action and protect these critical habitats for generations to come.
Luo’s work has yielded many remarkable discoveries, including the rediscovery of Zorotypus medoensis, a species of small bug that had only been previously recorded by a sketch from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1976. The bug was found in rotten wood and is considered a living fossil in entomology, providing valuable information for studies into continental drift. Luo’s team captured vivid images of the bug in 2012, filling a void in the recordings of the creature and helping to advance scientific knowledge about it.
Luo’s biodiversity work has also contributed to the recognition of Basum as a major historical site under State protection. The success of his conservation efforts has drawn attention to the importance of preserving Tibet’s fragile ecosystem, particularly in light of the unique climate, altitude, wind, and sand conditions that make it particularly susceptible to environmental degradation.
Luo’s deep connection to Tibet dates back to his childhood when he moved to the region with his military reporter father in 1970 at the age of six. He recalls the bustling pilgrimage sites, including the crowded scripture turning place, and how these experiences sparked his lifelong fascination with the region. Following in his father’s footsteps, Luo became a photographer and enrolled in the photography program at Renmin University of China in 1985.
While working as the executive editor of Tibet Geographic in 2008, Luo realized that he longed to return to his roots and pursue his passion for nature photography. He founded the Tibet Biodiversity Image Conservation in 2010, bringing together a team of ecologists, photographers, and volunteers to document the natural wonders of Tibet. The team planned their expeditions carefully, calculating their budget and the time required to find and photograph the rare and endangered species they hoped to document.
Despite the challenges and dangers they faced, including attacks by hornets and the risk of landslides, Luo’s team persisted in their efforts to document Tibet’s biodiversity. The fruits of their labor will be compiled into books featuring vivid photos and scientific texts, ensuring that future generations can appreciate and learn from their discoveries. Through his tireless work and dedication, Luo has become a leading advocate for the preservation of Tibet’s unique ecology and the rare and precious creatures that call it home.
According to Luo, returning to Tibet is like finding what he truly desires after traveling a long and winding path. He has become accustomed to the local cuisine and languages, having grown up there. Luo’s team has covered approximately 90% of the northern slope of the Himalayas with their biodiversity studies. They have amassed dozens of terabytes of images, which Luo intends to donate to professional institutions worldwide that study this region when he is no longer able to walk.
Luo plans to expand his project to the south of the Himalayan range, which would require visiting countries such as Nepal, Bhutan, India, and Pakistan. It will be an extensive project, but Luo is committed to it for as long as possible. In the meantime, he will continue to focus on his work in Tibet, discovering and recording rare and endangered creatures.
He believes that humans are tiny compared to nature and that preserving images of these creatures is crucial, especially for those species on the verge of extinction. Luo hopes that future generations will see the beauty of these creatures and understand the importance of preserving them. Overall, Luo’s work is a testament to his love for the Himalayas and his dedication to protecting its unique biodiversity.