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Hunting with golden eagles

Central Asia, including Kyrgyzstan, is world widely known for its hunting tradition. Initiated by nomadic people who wanted to hunt in a more moral way, using natural predators to hunt prey rather than human-made weapons, Golden Eagle Hunting is still present in nomadic groups who live in the Western Tien Shan.

Golden eagle up close
Golden eagle up close

This is one of the oldest methods of hunting and a testimony of almost forgotten times. Berkuchi, -eagle hunters-, were real heroes to their peers and pride to their families. They were the ones who brought food and were able to pass on the traditional way of hunting to their sons; generations after generations.

Berkuchi catch eagles when they are still young and dress them carefully. The Golden Eagle training is rather long, can take up to 5 years and is done by only one hunter. This extensive and long training process allows the bird and the hunter to develop a strong connection; each eagle has only one master. Golden Eagles are able to discern human voices, but they only obey the call and voice of their Berkuchi.

The tradition almost disappeared when the Russians invaded Kyrgyzstan and forced local populations to abandon their nomadic lifestyle. But this authentic hunting method was brought back to life and is now still used mostly to preserve the cultural heritage it represents to nomadic people. Observing Eagle hunting is a true attraction which makes Central Asia and Kyrgyz nomadic people so unique!