Maintaining the ancient tradition of eagle hunting in Mongolia
Eagle hunters, who are usually Male, share a strong bond with their raptors. For example, they feed on each other emotionally, according to another burkitshi: “If my eagle feels bad, I feel bad,” he explained. “If she’s happy, I’m happy. When we go to the mountains, we share everything together.
The eagle hunters allow tourists and visitors to witness their ancient practice, which helps support them financially. The Golden Eagle Festival, for example, takes place in Bayan-Ölgii province every year in October, and it is also used by Kazakhs to introduce their culture to others and pass on their heritage to their children and grandchildren.
The Kazakhs have used eagles for hunting for thousands of years. There are Bronze Age cave paintings that reference falconry, and Genghis Khan is said to have supported the practice. Additionally, Marco Polo mentioned eagle hunting with Khan’s grandson in the 1100s, according to Responsible travel.
Burkitshi wear fur coats to stay warm in sub-zero temperatures, and their golden eagles fly at an impressive 200 miles per hour, according to Forbes. During the Golden Eagle Festival, the best of the best compete in a variety of divisions to demonstrate the speed, agility and accuracy of their eagles.
Sponsored by the Mongolian Eagle Hunters Association, the Golden Eagle Festival begins with 70-80 participants riding horses while holding eagles in their arms, according to the travel agency. See Mongolia. Many of these eagle hunters travel long distances in this manner to witness the event. Judges rank contestants based on the intricacy of their Kazakh costumes, the elegance of their flying eagles, horsemanship and nuances of skill.
Golden eagles are known for their excellent eyesight, rapid flight, and sharp talons. They are able to see small movements over long distances. Female golden eagles are the preferred sex in this ancient tradition. They have larger bodies, weigh more than males, and have special support so they can perch comfortably in the saddle when riding. All eagles have names, and after six or seven years the Kazakhs release them into the wild.
While the men traditionally train the eagles, the occasional nine or 10-year-old boy also participates in the practice. Additionally, some girls and women also participate, including a teenage girl named Aishlopan Nurgaiv, who won against adult male hunters at the Golden Eagle Festival.
Director Otto Bell, who directed the documentary The eagle hunter about Aishlopan, says National geographic of ancient tradition: “It is generally believed that there are only about 250 practicing eagle hunters left in the world and most of them are concentrated in the Aisholpan corner of the Altai Mountains. “
He noted how difficult Aishlopan was while her team was shooting because she had no problem carrying a 15-pound eagle in -50 degree temperatures through large snowdrifts. He commented that she was “the first Mongolian woman to compete at the Golden Eagle Festival in Ölgii. And she is the first woman in 12 generations from her own family line to embark on the process of becoming a master eagle hunter.
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