These small “pandas” are truly stunning – note the strong demarcation between the red body and the black legs, and then of course that beautiful face pattern. I felt so privileged to be watching such a magnificent and secretive animal. Formerly thought to be a smaller cousin of the giant panda, most taxonomist now consider the red panda to be unrelated to the bigger black and white bear they share a name with, but instead they are usually placed in their own family and considered to be related to the mustelids (weasels and allies).
Because the panda was feeding so intently I was able to approach slowly and I eventually got quite close, taking a bunch of photos like this one. In fact, I was so close I couldn't get the whole animal in the frame. You can see the wet fur in this photo (in rained constantly when I was in Sichuan). As it got too dark to take photos I eventually turned around and left the red panda still feeding in the fruiting tree… hard to imagine that I would ever walk away from a red panda but I did!
There weren’t too many other mammals that I saw in China - there is a lot of hunting and illegal trapping and considerable disturbance to many natural areas due to the immense population pressure of 1+ billion people. Nonetheless, there is wildlife to be seen and these Bharal, also known as blue sheep, walking along a very steep cliff face with uncannily confident footwork at Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan were another highlight.
The Himalayan marmot was one of the neat animals I got to see high up in the alpine zone, making their home among the rocks.
More of my photos of mammals are viewable at: http://artusophotos.com/Mammals/index.htm