Surenkhuu Luvsan: 2018 David Shepherd Conservation Champion

You did it! Thanks to your votes, Mongolian herder woman and snow leopard conservation activist Surenkhuu Luvsan has won the 2018 David Shepherd Conservation Champion Award!

Surenkhuu received the good news in her home in the Tost Mountains, in the South Gobi province of Mongolia. She took a brief video to thank everyone who voted for her and supports her in her work to protect Tost and its surrounding areas from the threat of mining.

Surenkhuu is part of a herder community of around 100 households. These families have lived in and around the Tost Mountains for generations, herding sheep and goats for their livelihoods.

Tost is one of Mongolia’s best snow leopard habitats and is home to a stable population of at least a dozen of these rare, endangered cats. It is also rich in precious minerals, and has been targeted by mining companies for years. In a grassroots campaign, Surenkhuu and her community convinced the government of Mongolia to protect Tost as a State Nature Reserve in 2016 – a huge success for conservation.

Surenkhuu was instrumental in getting Tost Mountain protected as Nature Reserve. Photo by SLT

But the threat isn’t entirely over: mining interests continue to operate in the area. Just outside of the reserve borders, a mining company is about to dig up and destroy one of the very few oasis in this region. Surenkhuu believes this to be illegal and is fighting the mining company in the court in her spare time and with her own scarce financial resources

Surenkhuu at a press conference, explaining how mining interests threaten the habitat of the endangered snow leopard and the livelihoods of her community.

The David Shepherd Conservation Champion Award comes at just the right time! It will help Surenkhuu continue her fight and bring it into the spotlight in Mongolia and elsewhere.

Thank you so much for voting for Surenkhuu and giving her important work not just a boost, but a lifeline!

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