"Changing Skies" Voices from MongoliaPublished: Nov 17, 2021 Reading time: 3 minutes
Stories from "Changing Skies" project
Aisholpan first rose to fame as the shy rosy-cheeked yet fearless eagle huntress from Mongolia. Her images captivated the entire world, with a full-length film about her life named the “ Eagle Huntress”. Since then, thousands of people have traveled to her hometown of Bayan-Ulgi to attend the Eagle Festival and experience firsthand the mesmerizing beauty of west Mongolia.
Aisholpan comes from a long and respected line of Kazhak eagle hunters. As a child, her grandfather would remind her of the importance of protecting the nature around them. Nature that was so infused with their way of life, both as nomads and eagle hunters.
Climate change leads to shorter summers and harsher winters in the Altai mountains. The fragile ecosystem of many wild animals including the majestic golden eagles is in danger. Aisholpan and many other traditional Kazhak eagle hunters fear that this might mean the end of their ancient culture which has sustained both humans and eagles for centuries.
Alexander has worked tirelessly as a fire man at a small heat-only boiler (HOB) for over 30 years. With no family and no relatives, he lives at the boiler. Not too long ago, the Government of Mongolia started to ban the usage of HOBs. Now at the age of retirement Alexander is facing homelessness with no income, leaving him to rely on the meager earnings of a pension.
While the termination of these HOBs is definitely a positive step in the battle against air pollution, it leaves thousands of individuals just like Alexander behind.
Whilst our transition to a green and sustainable economy is essential, we must ensure the policies we propose and implement have a place for everyone to thrive.
Tuguldur was raised in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. Like most children, he grew up playing outside, hanging with his friends near local parks, and walking daily to school. At the age of 15 Tuguldur was diagnosed with bronchitis, an infection of the lungs.
“I was shocked to hear the news from my doctor. As kids, we always thought that air pollution and diseases associated with it were only something older people got. I just didn’t know it could ever affect a kid like me," remembers Tuguldur.
According to WHO, more than 90% of the world’s children breathe toxic air every day. Children and young people just like Tuguldur are often susceptible to potentially chronic infections. Infections that can easily lead to lifelong medical issues. According to a UNICEF study, children living in central Ulaanbaatar were found to have 40% reduced lung capacity compared to their countryside peers.