Bayarjargal Agvaantseren is a Mongolian activist and conservationist who has created the first snow leopard sanctuary in the world. Raised by a family of teachers, she grew up in northern Mongolia with her own educational path shifting toward conservation as she engaged with rural herders who wanted to protect their livestock from the leopards. Her tireless efforts led to her starting the Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation with a focus on community-driven programs that protect both the herders’ livestock as well as the snow leopard population. Agvaantseren has also held the Mongolian government accountable by successfully pressuring them to cancel 37 mining licenses of companies who have played a major role in threatening the habitat of the native snow leopard. The Tost Tosonbumba nature reserve in the south Gobi Desert encompasses 1.8 million acres that now protect the snow leopard population and is primarily managed by local communities. Photo credit: Positive.News
Mongolia was struck by harsh weather conditions in the winter of 2017, raising risks for pastoral and nomadic communities. The situation has caused particular concern for women and girls, who are experiencing limited access to sexual and reproductive health supplies and care as well as increased vulnerability to gender-based violence. Many report that with families struggling to cope, women’s health and hygiene needs have taken a back seat. Photo credit: UNFPA Mongolia/Bayartsogt Shagdarsuren
Dr. Isabel Cane conducted research in South Gobi, Mongolia, on the extent of gender-based violence that women face in communities closest to the expanding mining industries in this area. Her findings suggest that social and cultural changes including family breakups, domestic violence, and prostitution are increasing around large-scale mining operations. She has prepared recommendations for policy makers to address violence in mining-adjacent communities.