March 6, 2020

Saving Mongolia for the Future

We’re proud to announce the 2019 Denver Zoological Foundation Conservation Award Winner - Ms. Selenge Tuvdendorj.


Some of Denver Zoo’s most important work happens thousands of miles away at the Ikh Nart Nature Reserve in Mongolia. We’ve run a field conservation program there for more than two decades, and the work we do to preserve this unique ecosystem wouldn’t be possible without our partners. This year’s Denver Zoological Foundation Conservation Award winner, Selenge Tuvdendorj, is a critical part of that partnership. 

Selenge is the Executive Director of Mongolia Conservation Coalition (MCC), DZ’s partner at Ikh Nart Nature Reserve. She was selected for her significant contribution to the success of the reserve and to the protection of Mongolian wildlife. Her ability to inspire and train the next generation of conservationists is motivating – she is a true conservation leader within her community. 

Since 1997, Denver Zoo has given out its annual Denver Zoological Foundation Conservation Award to someone who has made a significant contribution to wildlife conservation. In addition to the award. these unsung heroes of wildlife conservation are also given $5,000 to be put toward wildlife conservation. 

During a recent trip to Mongolia, Denver Zoo Mongolia Program Director, Gana Wingard, had the opportunity to interview Selenge on her past 20 years working in wildlife conservation: 

How did you get involved in wildlife conservation?

At the end of the 80’s, beginning of the 90’s, I left my job in the factory after the transition process in my country. [Mongolia, which had been influenced by the Soviets, underwent a Democratic Revolution in 1990 which dramatically changed the country’s economy.] I used to work for a clothing company. Since I studied in Germany, I speak German, and I started working as a translator for a nature conservation project funded by the German government. In 2009, I was asked if I would like to work for this project. Since then - I work for MCC, Ikh Nart project and nature conservation. All these years have been like an on-the-job training for me.  

What is your current role with Denver Zoo and Mongolia Conservation Coalition? 

My role is to help to implement Denver Zoo funded wildlife projects locally. I am doing my best to bring the Denver Zoo Mission – Secure a better world for animals through human understanding – to the ground here in Mongolia. 

 What is your favorite part of working in wildlife conservation? 

Of course, nature conservation. I come from a family of scientists and my favorite part is to support future Mongolian nature scientists. I would like them to become dedicated scientists who, in the near future, will use their powerful words for the conservation of Mongolia. I want them to become not only scientistsbut also committed educators. This way we can gain more and more young people who can dedicate their heart and soul to protect nature conservation.  

I want to say THANK YOU VERY MUCH to Denver Zoological Foundation, to Earthwatch Institute, and to all other donors with your financial and professional support we can protect our nature for the future.  

What is your hope the future of conservation in Mongolia? 

My hope is our students, scientists and their contributions for today and in the future...  I hope that one day they will become conservation professionals who can define / influence conservation policies and be strong enough to implement them. 

Denver Zoo admires, appreciates and thanks Selenge for her tireless efforts to inspire communities to save wildlife for future generations.


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