Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Meet a 13-Year-Old Mongolian Girl Whose Hunting Partner is a Golden Eagle

Ashol-Pan lives in the Altai mountains of western Mongolia. A member of the Kazakh ethnic group, she's part of the tiny (and traditionally male) community of living humans who train and keep golden eages to hunt. And, yes, she's 13. Travel photographer Asher Svidensky captured Ashol-Pan—and her eagle—in action in a majestic series of photos you can see on the BBC's website.

"You don't really control the eagle. You can try and make her hunt an animal - and then it's a matter of nature. What will the eagle do? Will she make it? How will you get her back afterwards?" Svidensky said. Ashol-Pan, he said, is at ease with the beast.

The BBC, with details about the actual hunting:

They hunt in winter, when the temperatures can drop to -40C (-40F). A hunt begins with days of trekking on horseback through snow to a mountain or ridge giving an excellent view of prey for miles around. Hunters generally work in teams. After a fox is spotted, riders charge towards it to flush it into the open, and an eagle is released. If the eagle fails to make a kill, another is released. Swap dragons for a golden eagle and Ashol-Pan is Daenerys Stormborn, Mother of Dragons, from Game of Thrones. Only she's 13 and this is real life.

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