Mongolian Activist Single Handedly Protects Snow Leopards From Mining Companies 

Posted on September 7th 2019

snow leopard cub

A former language instructor who is now an animal activist has single handedly managed to save thousands of snow leopards from the threats posed by mining companies. Ms Bayarjargal Agvaantseren who is now 49 first became interested in helping conserve these vulnerable big cuts after she spent some time translating for a group of wildlife scientists during the 1980’s.

Habitat destruction and poaching

The snow leopard population in Southern Mongolia has been declining as a result of habitat destruction and poaching. Prior to Ms Agvaantseren embarking on a determined effort conserve the species, snow leopards were also the victims of farmers engaging in retaliatory killings or seeking to keep their livestock protected. Her first project was to create an insurance program for local herders and upon successfully creating that, the farmers were recruited as allies in her fight to keep snow leopards protected.

Creating a nature reserve

It was down to Ms Agvaantseren’s advocacy that the 1.8-million-acre region was turned into the acre Tost Tosonbumba Nature Reserve. This is an astonishing achievement because it is Mongolia’s first federally protected area specifically for the purposes of protecting snow leopards. Not satisfied with that, Ms Agvaantseren has managed to convince the government of Mongolia to revoke all 37 mining licenses in the region and all future mining permits in the reserve have been banned.

Achievements recognised

In recognition of this outstanding conservation career, Ms Ms Agvaantseren was awarded this year’s Goldman Environmental Prize for Asia. The organisation cited her achievement in a remote an unforgiving part of the planet that is dominated by uncontrolled mining operations where she advocated to keep what is left of Mongolia’s snow leopard population protected. Goldman adds that she was able to change the snow leopard narrative with herder communities who now think of the species as part of their identity.


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