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WATCH: Rural Chinese Hunter Turns to Wildlife Conservation

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Spring Festival — more commonly known in the West as Chinese New Year — has arrived, which means kicking back with family and friends to eat, drink, and celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Tiger. People born as ‘tigers’ are often associated with bravery, confidence, and competitiveness. To honor these traits, RADII has teamed up with Peddlers Gin to bring you ‘Spirit of the Tiger’ — a selection of inspiring stories from fascinating tigers across China.

Fang was born in the Year of the Tiger 84 years ago, and needless to say, a lot has changed in China over the past eight-plus decades. In the grey winters, in the shadow of Huang Mountain in Anhui province, Fang spends his time wrapped in a blanket, bundled up to combat the penetrating cold.

Warmth in these tiny isolated villages can be hard to find during the winter months. Coldness and bitterness, says Fang, are some of the only constants in his life.

Born in 1938 during the Chinese Civil War, he survived by carrying letters for the Guomindang, running between army checkpoints with the letter held firmly to his forehead as proof he didn’t read it.

Huangshan Mountain

He lives in a small cluster of houses nestled in a sheltered bamboo valley. To this day, the valley is Fang’s livelihood. After the civil war, he spent most of his life as a hunter, climbing the thickly forested sides of Huang Mountain in search of something to eat or sell.

When he was young, the hills in Anhui were filled with boar, cloud leopards, and bears. He recalls tracking bears in the forest, and he still has the cracked skull of a sick cloud leopard that had dragged itself into the village to catch a chicken decades ago.

At 84, his hunting days are behind him. Now he helps rangers from a nearby nature reserve catch poachers and conserves the biodiversity that remains in the area, including the monkeys who ransack his garden for vegetables.

Click here for more videos from the ‘Spirit of the Tiger’ series.

All images via Graeme Kennedy

Peddlers Gin
Born on the back streets of Shanghai, the hustle and bustle of the world’s biggest trading port was the perfect inspiration for a more adventurous gin. As China’s first craft gin, Peddlers heroes local ingredients like Sichuan pepper, Buddha’s hand and Gansu lotus. With medals from San Francisco Spirits Awards and CWSA, Peddlers proudly challenges perceptions of what it means to be made in China.
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