THE Kazakh Eagle Hunters of Bayan Olgii live in the mountains of far western Mongolia. Having fled Kazakhstan two hundred years ago as the soviet empire advanced, these diaspora Kazakhs have been able to hold onto traditional kazakh practices much more successfully than those they left behind in Kazakhstan. In fact, when the soviet empire collapsed, prime minister Nursultan Nazarbayev began offering Kazakhs in the the Bayan Olgii region incentives to return to Kazakhstan in order to try and restore some of the lost culture.
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I traveled to the region, a gruelling three day non-stop bus ride from the capital of Ulan Bataar, in the hope of finding some eagle hunters who would be willing to share their way of life with me. I was fortunate enough to be taken in by Kwanduk who took me to his family’s house five hours south of Olgii where I stayed for a few days playing dombra and learning all about the art of eagle hunting.
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