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Eagle Hunters in Kyrgyzstan: A Photo Essay

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man and eagleEagle hunting has been an age-old profession in the lands of Central Asia. The relationship between a man and his eagle is taken seriously, and it starts when the man risks his life to capture a young one to begin the bonding process.

This man and eagle relationship can last up to twenty years.

On my first weekend in Bishkek back in November, I was invited on a group trip out to Lake Issyk-kul where professional eagle hunters gathered to show off their skills. Granted we had to wait around for ages to discover the issue was that the show was without live prey, it was still enjoyable to get so close to these men and their precious golden eagles.

Eventually the group decided to use a stuffed rabbit that was dragged by horse in order to get the eagles to compete. I guess it worked — and I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed seeing them use live prey anyway.

Here are my photos from the day:

young men on horse with eagle

boy on donkey

horses outside bishkek

group near horses

camera crew

orange man and purple man watching

eagle chained

old man good hat

the crowd

the crowd of locals

landscape

the eagle catches prey

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In Kyrgyzstan, it is said that eagle hunting has been in action for 6,000 years.

To train the eagle, they use a hood to keep it in the dark until it becomes dependent on the owner. The eagles are then used to hunt for the owners who are sure to snatch up the eagle’s kill but also reward it with a snack of mouse or some other small treat.

If you enjoyed this photo essay, you might also enjoy my essay called “Somewhere in Kyrgyzstan“.

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8 Responses to Eagle Hunters in Kyrgyzstan: A Photo Essay

  1. Bret @ Green Global Travel January 11, 2012 at 12:42 am #

    Love this! We’re fascinated by birds of prey– lots of red-shouldered hawks where we live, and we see demonstrations like this fairly regularly at local Native American pow-wows (and agree, fake prey is definitely less grisly to watch). It’s amazing to see how the relationship between man and bird has remained unchanged in cultures like this for centuries, and cool too read about a culture I know next to nothing about. Thanks for sharing!

    • Brooke January 21, 2012 at 10:41 am #

      Thanks for reading, Bret! Loved the experience. I believe they use golden eagles here.

  2. tunimaal January 11, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    That’s a great experience. You are lucky to have been able to follow them. It must be impressive right?

    • Brooke January 21, 2012 at 10:40 am #

      Very impressive! Loved the experience and to be able to get up close with the eagles 🙂

  3. Deb January 18, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    Amazing shots! We had to skip Kyrgyzstan during the Mongol Rally because we ran out of time on our re-entry for our Russian Visa, but I so wish we made it there. Now seeing your photos, I am doubly bummed. Great post!

    • Brooke January 20, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

      Thanks, Deb! The experience was very cool 🙂

  4. Iman November 22, 2012 at 5:13 am #

    Thanks for sharing seems great experience looking forward to see them next summer.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Language is Music; Your Body the Instrument | Brooke vs. the World - January 17, 2012

    […] Susanna Zaraysky was a strange coincidence. When I got on a bus in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to visit the eagle hunters, I had no idea I was about to be chatting with someone pretty much involved in the blog world I […]

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