257 images Created 2 Jul 2019
Eagle Hunters of Mongolia
In the far west province of Mongolia called Bayan Ulgii live the Kazakhs. In the 13th Century under Chinggis (Genghis) Khan, this nomadic culture started hunting with eagles - namely golden eagles. Today there are an estimated 250 eagle hunters in Bayan Ulgii which is located in the Altai Mountains. This custom involves hunting with golden eagles on horseback. They primarily hunt red fox, hares, marmots and rabbits. On occasion, and depending on the particular eagle, they may hunt wolves, the sworn enemy of the Kazakhs and most Mongols. Wolves predate precious livestock (yak calves, reindeer and goats) of the Mongolians. To obtain their eagles, the eagle hunters either climb treacherously steep cliffs to capture their eagles as fledglings still in the nest or trap them when they are less than a year old. They only use female golden eagles who are larger than the males and more ferocious hunters. The eagle hunters create a unique, special and very close bond with their eagles. They work together as a team while hunting, and the eagles often times live in the home of the hunter and family. When the eagle grows to about 7 years of age, the hunter releases her back into the wild. This is a very emotional time for each hunter after spending so many years together as friends and hunting partners. In early October of each year, the hunters ride to the Golden Eagle Festival where they proudly display their hunting and riding skills with their eagles. This is the "Olympics" of eagle hunting and winning the festival is a coveted position amongst the Kazakh eagle hunters.