An eagle hunter attends the Spring Golden Eagle Festival near the Mongolian capital city of Ulan Bator on March 4, 2018. The Spring Golden Eagle Festival, a traditional Mongolian festival, opened near the capital city of Ulan Bator on Sunday, with the aim to promote ethnic Kazakh cultures and boost tourism. Twenty eagle hunters aged 14-86 are competing in the 11th edition of the two-day festival. (Xinhua/Asigang)
ULAN BATOR, March 4 (Xinhua) -- The Spring Golden Eagle Festival, a traditional Mongolian festival, opened near the capital city of Ulan Bator on Sunday, with the aim to promote ethnic Kazakh cultures and boost tourism.
Twenty eagle hunters aged 14-86 are competing in the 11th edition of the two-day festival to catch small animals, such as foxes and hares, with specially trained golden eagles, showing off the skills of both the birds and their trainers, according to the Mongolian Eagle Hunter's Association.
Prizes will be awarded for speed, agility and accuracy, as well as for the best traditional Kazakh dress, and more.
One of the participants, Aisholpan Nurgaiv, is a contributor to the promotion of the tradition of hunting with eagles. When Aisholpan was 13, she became popular for her hobby of hunting with eagles. She was trained by her father to hunt on horseback with a golden eagle, traditionally a male pursuit.
Israeli photographer Asher Svidensky became the first to discover the girl in 2013 and published a series of jaw-dropping photos of the brave eagle huntress. Inspired by these bright pictures, British Director Otto Bell shot a documentary "The Eagle Huntress" where Aisholpan starred together with her eagle.
"I have been hunting with golden eagle since the age of 10. The birds are taken from their nests as chicks to be trained. Currently, there are over 400 people hunting with eagles in Bayan-Ulgii province in western Mongolia. Only six of them are female," Aisholpan said.
Mongolia is home to the thousand year-old tradition of hunting with trained Golden Eagles. This unique tradition has been passed from generation to generation among the Kazakh nomads.
The Golden Eagle Festival is held twice a year in the spring and autumn season in Mongolia. The autumn festival is held in the Bayan-Ulgii province.
The festival, one of the most interesting tourism activities in Mongolia, is estimated to attract 3,000 domestic and foreign visitors this year. The last spring festival attracted over 2,000 visitors.