Some people believe that one person can’t make much of a difference, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you don’t believe me then wait till you read this next story about how a 49-year-old former language arts teacher single-handedly saved snow leopards from becoming extinct. Some people are born to change the world and make it a better place, and Bayarjargal Agvaantseren is one of them!Snow leopards are predominantly found in southern Mongolia, but their being destroyed because of the loss of their dwindling habitat and because of poachers. Sadly, many of them also become prey to the farmers in Mongolia who are trying to protect their livestock.
This former language arts teacher became an animal activist after she spent time working as a translator for a wildlife scientist in the 1980s. Knowing that the snow leopards were close to extinction, she had to work fast.
Together, they created an insurance program for local herders that lose their livestock to hungry snow leopards. The program helped the herders to realize that the snow leopards were no longer the enemy. While that was a major accomplishment, Agvaantseren also managed to recruit the farmers to help her fight for the protection of the beautiful snow leopards.
She did everything she could to fight for the lives of the leopards, and her efforts eventually turned into the 1.8 million-acre Tost Tosonbumba Nature Reserve. The Reserve is the first federally protected area in Mongolia that was created for snow leopard conservation.
The government also promised to ban all mining permits for the reserve in the future, as well. Thanks to her unwavering commitment to the snow leopards, Agvaantseren was recently awarded the 2019 Goldman Environmental Prize. According to the Goldman website: “In a remote, unforgiving corner of the world dominated by runaway mining operations, Agvaantseren championed protections for Mongolia’s remaining population of snow leopards. Moreover, she was able to shift perceptions of snow leopards among herder communities, who now see the animal as an integral part of their identity.”