Nomads Who Use Eagles to Hunt
The ancient Kazak traditon of hunting with the Golden
Eagle has spread across the globe
the form of Falconry. The Crusaders
brought it back from the Arabs, who learned it from the
Turks. The Japanese learned from the Koreans, who learned
from the Chinese, who had learned from tribes "north of
the waste" or the Kazaks up in the Altai Mountains.
the high valleys of the Altai, where present-day Siberia,
Mongolia, and Kazakhstan come together, herders started
hunting with eagles about 6,000 years ago.
In the permanently snow-capped Altai Mountains of far
Western Mongolia lies the province of Bayan-Olgii, the
home of the nomadic Kazaks. During the winter months,
when animal's coats are at their finest, tribesman of
Bayan Olgii still practice the ancient art of hunting
using Golden Eagles. Female Golden Eagles. The most difficult
animals for the eagles to kill are wolves. Only eagles
caught in the high mountains are considered strong and
fierce enough to break a wolf'back. Eagles caught in the
lower steppes would most likely be killed by the wolf.
Only female eagles are used.
in traditional deels and scarlet hats these hunters carry
the Eagles on horseback. The eagle perches on a gloved
arm supported by a wooden V-shaped yoke pressed against
the saddle. In their ancestral way Kazakhs follow tracks
of rabbits, fox and wolf in the snow then wait on a high
perch on the mountain side where they can scan the plain
below for prey. Once the eagle spots a fox or hare it
is released and glides down the hill.
Golden Eagles kill their prey with a crushing grip and
needle sharp talons. The
tradition is passed down from father to son and is all
but lost in other parts of the world.
For the rest of Mongolian, going to Uglii is like traveling
to a different country. The primary language is Kazack,
not Mongolian, the principle religion is Muslim not Hindu.
Even the dress and facial features of the people will
the Communist revolution in 1921, the Kazakhs suffered
further under Choibalson purges. The foriegners policies
drove the Kazak lifestyle underground. Although democracy
was achieved in the late 1990's, modernization and globalism
continue to strain the survival survival of Kazak traditions.
severe weather changes have been decimating Mongolia livestock,
further causing migration to the modern cities and changes
in lifestyle. There is concern is
that the youth are losing interest in traditions such
as Eagle Hunting.
efforts to reinvigorate this traditional form of hunting
in Bayan Olgii and to share it with the wider world are
being introduced. In 2000 the first Eagler's Naadam, a
festival and competition, was organized with a small but
successful turnout of 76 eaglers. In 2001 over 150 eaglers
participated. Many newcomers are young men interested
by the competitive nature of the festival. Several boys
attend the Naadam now, looking for an apprenticeship.
An Eagle Hunters Association was started to further promote
is that, which if not dealt with properly, will kill you" -Dan