With a wingspan of 6 or 7 feet and a speed of 150 miles per hour, the golden eagle is America’s largest bird of prey.
The golden eagle can also be found in Asia, which is where a photographer found five Mongolian boys — and one girl — using the raptor to hunt, the BBC reports.
For 2,000 years, Kazakhs in the Altai mountain range have been hunting using the art of falconry. They snatch the eaglet from the nest — female eagles preferred because they’re larger than the males.
The Kazakhs traditionally hunt in winter in temperatures as low as -40. When they spot prey — a fox, a hare — the eagle is released to make the kill.
“You don’t really control the eagle,” says Asher Svidensky, the photographer. “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?”
The Kazakhs may prefer female eagles, but the falconers are traditionally male. The lone girl, Ashol-Pan, is the 13-year-old daughter of a celebrated hunter.
“To see her with the eagle was amazing,” Svidensky says. “She was a lot more comfortable with it, a lot more powerful with it and a lot more at ease with it” than the boys.
You can listen to Svidensky interviewed by the BBC here.
Read the BBC report here.
Watch a video of Kazakhs hunting with an eagle here. (Spoiler alert: The eagle gets a fox. If you don’t like “a fight to the death,” don’t watch.)