Elder Kazakh eagle hunter posing with his eagle and his horse #1, Western Mongolia

- Image ID: EM9TRK
Elder Kazakh eagle hunter posing with his eagle and his horse #1, Western Mongolia
Terry Allen / Alamy Stock Photo
Image ID: EM9TRK
The Kazakh tribesmen of Western Mongolia (in the Olgii area), live gers and often tend herds of goats and sheep with the occasional cow. They train golden eagles to hunt for food and furs, and they compete with each other in the fall at the famous eagle festival in Olgii where Kazakh eagle trainers come from far and wide to compete with their birds. The relationship between a raptor and its handler is an opportunistic one where the eagle trusts the handler to protect it and provide it with food and the handler trusts the eagle to return to him (or in rare cases, her) after releasing the eagle to hunt. The hunters take female eagles from the nest when they are ready to fly and train them to hunt and return to their owners. They keep the eagles for about 6 years until they are sexually mature and then release them to the wild so they can breed, leaving them with a gift of an animal carcass to help feed them as they adjust to the wild. Hence the practice of eagle hunting does not impact the wild population of birds.
Location: The Mongolian steppes, near Olgii, Western Mongolia