In many ways, Zamanbol* is a normal 14-year-old: She attends school, does her chores, and takes selfies with friends. But on Saturdays, she saddles up her horse, treks into the mountains, and hunts with a trained eagle for foxes, rabbits, and wolves. A Kazakh nomad in the Altai region of Mongolia, she’s carrying on a tradition that’s existed for centuries. Zamanbol learned the art of hunting from her grandfather, and when he died, she inherited his prized eagle. Her birds recognize her voice and follow her commands. In recent years, cell phones and social media have exposed this isolated nomadic community to the world—Zamanbol often posts pictures of her adventures on Facebook, for example. But although her world is being transformed by technology, she seeks to remain connected to her culture by preserving the customs of previous generations. “After my grandfather’s death,” Zamanbol says, “I wanted to continue his way.”
*Many Mongolians are customarily known by just their first name.