TOKYO-2017 People / Culture

The Nomadic Golden Eagle Hunters of the Altai Mountains

  • Prize
    Bronze in People/Culture
  • Photographer
    Sarah Jenkins

In the desolate yet beautiful mountainous terrain of western Mongolia live 60 or so remaining traditional eagle hunters. These tough, proud Kazakh nomads, living in harsh sub zero temperatures use golden eagles to hunt on horseback. This ancient tradition of training golden eagles to hunt for foxes and sometimes wolves is still part of daily life for these eagle hunter families who use the prey for both food and warm clothing. The hunter takes the young female wild eaglet from its nest and trains it over the next 1-2 years; whereby the eagle becomes part of the family and takes pride of place in the home. A special bond develops between hunter and eagle - a trusting relationship between man and this enormous bird of prey. At times, the bird’s eyes are covered by a hood which is then lifted from its head when the hunter and eagle are about to head into a hunt. After about 8-9 years the hunter releases the eagle back into the wild - an emotional moment for both hunter and eagle.

Sarah is a freelance photographer who lives in Sydney Australia, but her wanderlust for travel has taken her to all corners of the globe; to 135 countries and all seven continents. She shoots travel and portrait photographs on a freelance basis. Her interest in disappearing cultures takes her to some of the more remote parts of the world. Sarah's images have been awarded international photography awards. Sarah is also the director of SignaturePhoto Photography Courses.