A Look at the Life of Mongolia’s Golden-eagle Hunters

The photographer Palani Mohan documents the bond between man and bird in the Mongolian mountains: http://nyr.kr/1MSMM1M Photographs by Palani Mohan / Courtesy Merrell Publishers
  1. Eagle hunters belong to traditional nomadic clans from Mongolia’s Khazakh minority.
    Many of the men talk about loving the eagles like their own children.
  2. Birds are captured and domesticated at four years old.
    That’s when they’re old enough to know how to hunt but young enough to be pliable to human company and training.
  3. Only female birds are used for hunting.
    They’re larger—with an eight-foot wingspan—and fiercer hunters.
  4. Eagles hunt foxes and other animals.
    They spot their prey from high up in the mountains.
  5. During winter hunts, temperatures can drop to forty below.
  6. There are only about fifty or sixty eagle hunters left.
    A ninety-three-year-old hunter says that young people “want only to be inside, in the warm, and they keep their eagles just for festivals and treat them as pets.”
  7. Eagles can live for thirty years.
    But hunters keep each one for only about ten years, then release it to live out its last years in the wild.