In pictures... The Eagle People of Mongolia
Wildlife cameraman and presenter, Gordon Buchanan, learning to fly a golden eagle from horseback in the remote Altai Mountains of western Mongolia.
Wildlife cameraman and presenter, Gordon Buchanan, launching a young eagle from horseback as taught by Kazakh nomads in Mongolia.
Perhaps as few as seventy traditional eagle hunters, known as bürtkitshi, remain in Mongolia. Some young people are determined to carry on this way of life.
Gordon Buchanan was injured whilst training a young female golden eagle when one of her two inch talons pierced his hand. Only female eagles are used for hunting as they are larger and more aggressive. These eagles are capable of hunting wolves.
Gordon Buchanan with a golden eagle in Mongolia.
Sailau and Pensya bring their golden eagle inside the family home, or ger, when it’s cold outside. These predators are considered an important member of the family.
The bond between a hunter and their eagle is incredibly strong, but they don’t keep these birds forever. Sailau returned his golden eagle to the wild after 8 years of companionship, to allow her to breed. These nomads have a relationship with eagles stretching back thousands of years.
A Kazakh hunter shows off his eagle’s wingspan, which stretches over 2 metres. People and golden eagles work in partnership in Mongolia to hunt for hares and foxes. Fur was important for survival when temperatures dropped below minus 30C.
Respected hunters, Sailau and Botei, taught Gordon Buchanan how to train and hunt with a young golden eagle in the Altai Mountains of Mongolia.