Mingma Norbu Sherpa
1955 - 2006
Mingma Norbu Sherpa was born October 31, 1955, in Khunde village in the Sherpa homeland of Khumbu within what is now Sagarmatha (Chomolungma/Mt. Everest) National Park. Because he spoke several local languages and English, he was working as a translator for visiting trekkers and conservationists in his teens. He became a protégé of Sir Edmund Hillary who in 1953 became the first Westerner to scale Mount Everest. Mingma was in the first class of the first school established by Hillary around Everest. He continued on to graduate from Lincoln College (now a branch of New Zealand’s University of Canterbury), in 1980. He earned a master’s degree in natural resources management in 1985 from the University of Manitoba. As a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Michigan in 1987, he created a plan for environmental education in Nepal. Mingma, along with Chandra Gurung, was central to the development of the conservation area concept in Nepal. In 1985 a team including Mingma and Chandra proposed and planned the establishment of Annapurna Conservation Area where Mingma later served as the first director. Mingma and Chandra felt that the conservation area approach would not reach its full potential until local residents assumed full responsibility for conservation area management as they now have in Kanchenjunga Conservation Area. Mingma hoped that this would spread to all of Nepal’s national parks including Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park. He became a ranger there in 1980 and within six months became the park’s first Sherpa warden. Mingma joined the WWF in 1989 to direct programs in Nepal, Bhutan, and the Terai Arc region of Nepal and India. Among other projects, he led efforts to protect endangered wildlife, including the Bengal tiger and the greater one-horned rhinoceros.
Mingma Norbu Sherpa (Necrology). 2006. AAG Newsletter 41(10): 6.