This is why Kazakh Eagle Hunting in Mongolia Maintains a 4,000-Year-Old Tradition!
The Kazakhs have a long-standing tradition of eagle hunting in Mongolia and they are proudly keeping it till now. Mongolians are born Hunters and are known for their skills in the history which attribute greatly to them keeping the Eagle hunting tradition.
Why is the releasing of eagles back into the wild so emotional?
The releasing of eagles is usually an emotional moment as the hunters have a hard time letting go the bond. It is also a fascinating cultural feeling and should not be missed.
What happens at the the Eagle Hunting competitions
- This festival is a true test of the Eagles skills, it's masters concentration and the unbreakable bond formed between them for the many years they have hunted together.
- A variety of awards are usually on offer so prepare for a breath-taking sight to see the competition kicking and the majestic Eagles perched on the arm of the Kazakhs dressed in full traditional costume.
- It is estimated that there are over 700 spectators, many are tourists but there are quite a few locals especially on the second day.
- There is normally beautiful handicraft stalls set-up by women in the province. It is a great place to buy some handmade souvenirs from the actual person who made it.
What is the history of Eagle Hunting in Mongolia?
- The ancient tradition of eagle hunting was birthed in central Asia.
- The Normans from the central Asian Steppes began to tame these birds of prey Thousands of Years ago and this tradition is still passed on from Generation to generation.
- Eagle hunting in Mongolia was fundamental to the acquisition of food and furs in the harsh winter months.
- Nowadays, which form of hunting is not essential anymore in the survival of the people and the tradition of eagle hunting is slowly disappearing.
- The art of eagle training was passed down from one generation to another orphan from father to son.
- The training takes about 3 to 4 years before both eagle and Hunter are ready for a successful Hunt.
- The novice first needs to catch an eagle from the wild or take a fledgling one from the nest.
- Once the novice has an eaglet, it is very important that he spends all his time with the bird so that it sees him as his master and starts depending on him.
- The Eagle wears a leather Hood during the day so it can't see.
- The hunter will often talk and sing to the bird and it learn to listen only to his trainers voice.
- The novice is also the one who feeds the eagle creating a strong bond between them.
- To train the Eagle to hunt, the novice uses a stuffed fox fur that is fast and on a rope.
- He also teaches the Eagle to come back and fly down on his hand.
- Once the training has gone well, the novice takes his eagle out to hunt for real animals.
Where can I see Eagle hunting in Mongolia?
The easiest way to see in eagle hunting in action in Mongolia is by attending one of the two festivals in Bayan Olgii.
1. The Altai Kazakh Eagle Festival
2. The huge Golden Eagle Festival
- The festivals are held in late September through to early October.
- The festival will get a bit touristy and are a times unsustainable but they are by far the easiest way to get a taste of the tradition.
- If you would love to see the real deal, in winter, reserve plenty of time to get to know locals and even stay with them in their Gers.
Eagle Hunting in Mongolia Festival Practicalities
The Eagle hunting festivals have become one of the main reasons to travel to Mongolia in recent years.
It seems unreal to people that Eagle hunting tradition still exists in this modern world.
Eagle Hunters train golden eagles from very young age and although they exist in other parts of the world, you can only see amazing eagle hunting tradition in central Asia especially in Altai mountain region in Mongolia.
The ethnic Kazakhs use the golden eagle for hunting for 4 good reasons.
1. The golden eagle are arguably one of the biggest birds of prey but not too heavy.
2. The golden eagle have unbelievable telescopic vision and can observe small animals from 500 to 1000 meters above.
3. Golden eagles have a jaw-dropping speed and agility to their size.
When they dive, their speed can reach up to 320 km per hour.
4. Golden eagle are one of the most trainable birds of prey.