Sumbe Tomorsukh was a key part of our research and conservation efforts in Mongolia. He helped set up camera traps and assisted in snow leopard collaring, led trainings for rangers and education camps for children, and interacted with local herders and community members. His passion for conservation knew no bounds – but he was also a beloved friend and colleague who could share a laugh with everyone he met. His loss was a shock, and left a void we will never be able to fully fill.
While he is gone, Sumbe did leave an incredible legacy behind. His tireless work helped form the basis for the Mongolian government’s decision to turn the Tost Mountains into a Nature Reserve and protect this precious snow leopard habitat.
Now, as a small gesture in celebration of Sumbe, we’ve named the latest snow leopard we’ve been able to equip with a GPS collar, in his honor. The cat, previously called “M13”, is between two and three years old; a young adult in the process of establishing himself among his peers – just as Sumbe had been.
Sumbe was an avid wrestler, and loved the sport dearly. To reflect this passion of his, Sumbe’s colleagues on our Mongolia team have chosen the name “Nachin Devee”. It loosely translates into English as “Flying Falcon”. The name is rooted in Mongolian wrestling. In this national sport, there are different degrees or levels of wrestlers – comparable to the belts awarded e.g. in martial arts. One of the levels Mongolian wrestlers can achieve is “Nachin”, which translates to falcon. “Devee” is the name of a move in Mongolian wrestling, often referred to as a dance depicting a falcon taking flight.
Thanks to the tireless work Sumbe did alongside his colleagues at Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation Mongolia, Nachin Devee finds his habitat protected from mining and poaching, with plentiful ibex to feast on. May Sumbe’s spirit live on through this magnificent cat.
Nachin Devee was equipped with a GPS collar in 2017 as part of the ongoing long-term ecological study on snow leopards in Mongolia’s South Gobi province that’s been conducted by the Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation, Snow Leopard Trust, and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences since 2008. The conservation organization Panthera helped launch the study and was a partner until 2012.
We are thankful to the Ministry for Environment and Green Development, Government of Mongolia, the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences for partnering with us in this research endeavor.
Partnership Funding by Fondation Segré, managed by the Whitley Fund for Nature, has helped tremendously with this work.
We are equally thankful to the Woodland Park Zoo, Cat Life Foundation, Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, Kolmarden Zoo, Nysether Family Foundation, Twycross Zoo and all other donors and supporters.
Special thanks to Erin Dallin and Aaron Barlond, who won the right to select a name for another cat, M12, in an auction. They chose the name “Uuliin ezen”, Mongolian for “Ghost of the Mountain”.
This work would not be possible without the efforts of our staff and volunteers who dedicate their heart and soul to the conservation of the snow leopard. Thank you!