Snow Leopard Trust Executive Director Brad Rutherford presented the award to Sumbe’s family at a memorial ceremony held in Ulaanbaatar.
Sumbe Tomorsukh tragically passed away in 2015 much before his time. He was only 27. His death is an irreparable loss to his family and friends, as well as to all of us personally and to the Snow Leopard Trust as an organization. It is also a huge loss for Mongolia, and for the international snow leopard conservation community.
We share Sumbe’s family’s grief, and together with our colleagues in Mongolia, we stand with them through this terrible time. We are honoring their wishes and doing whatever possible to support them in this difficult time.
Sumbe’s death has raised many questions, and there have been reports in Mongolian media alleging that he was the victim of a crime, which may have been related to his work as a snow leopard conservationist fighting to protect the cats’ habitat in the Tost Mountains, in Mongolia’s South Gobi province. We are following those reports closely and are standing ready, doing what we can to help his family get answers.
We have high respect for the Mongolian government and authorities. We have requested them to conduct a fair, thorough and transparent investigation into his death, and to help realize Sumbe’s dream of saving the snow leopards of Tost.