Wong How Man is known as China’s most accomplished explorer. In 1985, while working for the U.S. National Geographic magazine, Wong led a team that found a new source of the Yangtze river that is internationally recognized as the true geographic source of the river. Twenty years later, Wong led a team to discover a new source, four miles west of the source that he had previously discovered.

More than 20 years ago Wong founded the China Exploration and Research Society (CERS), a nonprofit organization committed to ensuring that the people, animals and sites Wong and his colleagues encounter on their expeditions won't disappear. The Hong Kong-based group now runs 12 projects in China.

One involves a campaign to end the slaughter of chiru, antelope whose fur is used in the production of shahtoosh shawls. Another aims at restoring the crumbling frescoes of a tiny Tibetan nunnery. Not averse to high tech, the group has even used nasa satellites to pinpoint ancient caravansaries buried deep in the sands of the Silk Road.