Birds of prey keep tradition alive

A golden eagle perches on a stone with its "berkutchy", or trainer, nearby in the village of Turasuu, Issyk-Kul area, which is about 270km from Bishkek, in Kyrgyzstan.

Hunting with golden eagles is a skill handed down from generation to generation in rural Kyrgyzstan. It dates back to the times when hunting was the only means of survival in the Kyrgyz steppe. According to Kyrgyz hunters, in former times, one hunter with a golden eagle could support a large family.

Since 1997, "Salburun" contests have been organised to celebrate this ancient tradition. Hunters and owners of birds of prey gather to compete in traditional Kyrgyz hunting and archery.

The organisers of the hunting festival hope that it will help preserve the skills of their ancestors for future generations.

Head of the Salburun Federation in Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Akunov said: "Traditions are disappearing in the modern world; that is why we organised this competition. I think if we manage to revive national traditions, we will be able to preserve the history of Kyrgyz people."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2017, with the headline 'Birds of prey keep tradition alive'. Print Edition | Subscribe