Most children, Asher Svidensky says, are a little intimidated by golden eagles. Kazakh boys in western Mongolia start learning how to use the huge birds to hunt for foxes and hares at the age of 13, when the eagles sit heavily on their undeveloped arms. Svidensky, a photographer and travel writer, shot five boys learning the skill as well as the girl, Ashol-Pan. “To see her with the eagle was amazing,” he recalls. “She was a lot more comfortable with it, a lot more powerful with it and a lot more at ease with it.”
The Kazakhs of the Altai mountain range in western Mongolia are the only people that hunt with golden eagles, and today there are around 400 practising falconers. Ashol-Pan, the daughter of a particularly celebrated hunter, may well be the country’s only apprentice huntress. —A 13-year-old eagle huntress in Mongolia
I am going out on a limb and guessing she is not the only daughter of an accomplished eagle hunter. It’s a great thing when dads share their interests and explorations of the world with their daughters just as they would with sons, and I hope she is not actually alone. Or if so, then not for long.