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Walking With Animals

“See them?” It is Mahan Atabaev: skinny, wind-burned, a pastoralist in a baseball cap. He stands in a chilly alpine dawn, urging me look through a spotting scope. The scope is trained on a valley high in the Pamir range of Tajikistan. I crouch to peek, and what I see is this: animals that appear...

“See them?”

It is Mahan Atabaev: skinny, wind-burned, a pastoralist in a baseball cap. He stands in a chilly alpine dawn, urging me look through a spotting scope.

The scope is trained on a valley high in the Pamir range of Tajikistan. I crouch to peek, and what I see is this: animals that appear to be carved from light. They literally shine. They graze on the steep mountainside, glowing pale in the sunrise, perfect in every detail. They are wild Marco Polo sheep. A big ram, easily weighing hundreds of pounds, carries a crown of spiral of horns. Atabaev grins happily at me.

Read the full story, or explore more content from the Out of Eden Walk at outofedenwalk.org.

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Meet the Author

Paul Salopek
Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek’s 21,000-mile Out of Eden Walk is a multiyear experiment in slow journalism. Moving at the beat of his footsteps, Salopek is walking the pathways of the first humans who migrated out of Africa in the Stone Age and made the Earth ours. Along the way he is covering the major stories of our time—from climate change to technological innovation, from mass migration to cultural survival—by giving voice to the people who inhabit them every day. His words, as well as his photographs, video, and audio, are creating a global record of human life at the start of a new millennium as told by villagers, nomads, traders, farmers, soldiers, and artists who rarely make the news. Join the journey at outofedenwalk.org and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @OutofEdenWalk.