This is a double feature on the eagle hunters of the Altai mountains of Mongolia; one is the cinematic work of Cale Glendening, and the other is a photographic essay by Sasha Leahovcenco.
The golden eagles live in the high Altai mountains, in far-western Mongolia, and build their nests in the crags of the area’s rugged peaks. The hunters, a Khazak minority, are traditional nomadic clans who learn to climb up to these crevices to capture and domesticate the young eagles. The birds are hand fed, and live with the hunters’ families for years.
The hunters take their eagles high into the mountains, so they can fly down and catch foxes and other small mammals. It's a dying tradition, with an estimated number of only fifty or sixty authentic eagle hunters left.
|Photo © Sasha Leahovcenco | All Rights Reserved|
Although eagles can live for thirty years, the hunters keep each one for only about ten years, then release it to live out its last years in the wild.
The hunters are called burkitshi, and try to pass their long standing tradition to their sons. The tradition of hunting with golden eagles is said to have been started by the nomadic tribes of Manchuria in northern China around 940 AD.
Sasha Leahovcenco's Mongolian Eagle Hunters photo essay is here.
His biography reveals that is a humanitarian, entrepreneur and photographer. He was born in Moldova, an Eastern European country and former Soviet republic. A martial art champion, he eventually took up photography as a career, and traveled to Chukotka (the northern most part of Russia), Haiti, Central America, the Middle East and several countries in Africa. He covered stories of the earthquake in Haiti, the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, the ongoing war conflict in Ukraine and the Syrian and Lebanese refugee crisis.
Cale Glendening is a director and cinematographer who has spent the last eight years traveling the world filming on five continents in over 35 countries. His clients include Google, Red Bull, Cholula, Valvoline, Dollar General, BBC, ESPN, and Animal Planet.