Mongolian Community Ranger Buren Nyam awarded Disney Conservation Hero Award

He once considered snow leopards a threat to his family’s livelihood. Today, he is a dedicated advocate, protecting Mongolia’s most studied population of snow leopards, including several females who have successfully raised multiple generations.

Enkhburen (Buren) Nyam, a Mongolian herder and ranger, was awarded the Disney Conservation Hero award in 2021 as one of only 15 recipients around the world recognized for their efforts to protect the planet. Snow Leopard Trust nominated Buren, along with his team of six community rangers, for their invaluable work to protect Mongolia’s Tost Nature Reserve and its wildlife. Our late 2021 camera trap survey revealed this important habitat currently supports at least 21 individual snow leopards including six females with a total of nine cubs.

Female known as Guerrero with two subadult cubs

Buren and his team helped establish Tost as a federally recognized nature reserve in 2016 and are collectively responsible for patrolling over 7,000 square kilometers twice a month. The rangers monitor for signs of snow leopards and other wildlife and document evidence of illegal hunting or mining activity. Although all mining is now prohibited, there is still a pressing threat of small-scale mining exploration in remote areas, which could easily go unnoticed without their surveillance. Such evidence is then reported to a local enforcement agency that specializes in environmental issues.

Tost rangers provide valuable data to Snow Leopard Trust’s partner organization in Mongolia, Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation (SLCF), such as wild prey surveys and population estimates. This data compliments the annual surveys our teams perform as part of our long-term ecological study that began in 2008.

Buren and his team live within the boundaries of Tost and continue to practice traditional herding for cashmere as their main livelihood, giving them valuable insight into the local ecology and terrain. Buren first began his journey to protect snow leopards in 2009, when he attended an SLCF meeting to address livestock predation within herding communities. After this meeting he decided to manage his own community’s livestock insurance fund, which guarantees compensation for any livestock lost to predation. He has since taken on even more responsibility by becoming a snow leopard advocate and acting as SLCF’s liaison in Tost, in addition to his work as a ranger, herder and community representative. He and his team are making an even greater impact by sharing best practices in patrolling and wildlife monitoring with rangers from other protected areas in Mongolia.

The Disney Conservation Hero Award was presented to Buren and his team during an informal ceremony in Gurvantes in June 2022. All seven rangers were grateful to be recognized as ambassadors for snow leopard conservation, with Buren commenting, “I am very honored to be awarded as one of the conservation heroes by Disney Conservation Fund for helping to maintain my homeland for its wilderness and well-being of fellow herders. It inspires me to achieve more and involve more local people in conservation.”

Congratulations to Buren and his team!

Snow Leopard Trust and Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation (Mongolia) give heartfelt thanks to People’s Trust for Endangered Species (UK) that is funding stipends and expenses for the community rangers Tost patrolling and wildlife monitoring in 2022 and beyond.


  1. Thank you so much for all your and your teams great work in the community. I wish you and your team the best and hope this work becomes a long tradition led by wonderful teams like yours. Congratulations on this well deserved award.

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