128 pages, 85 b/w photos, 1 b/w map
Kazakh nomads have been grazing their livestock near the Altai Mountains in western Mongolia for many hundreds of years. Here, in this desolate landscape, where temperatures plummet to minus 40 degrees Celsius in winter, live the last of the men who use eagles to hunt on horseback. Rugged, formidable, proud, the golden eagles share the same qualities as the men with whom they ride. Only the toughest survive here.
Fascinated by the special bond that develops between hunter and eagle, award-winning photographer Palani Mohan has spent the last few years documenting the burkitshi, as the hunters are known in Kazakh. As Mohan explains in his introduction to a collection of breathtaking duotone images, this is a culture under threat. There are no more than 50 to 60 'true' hunters left, and each winter claims a few more. Having taken an eaglet from the nest, given it pride of place in their home and trained it, all hunters describe the eagle as part of their family. With its massive wingspan, sharp eyesight and powerful, flesh-tearing beak and talons, the golden eagle is the perfect predator. Its usual prey, fox, provides a welcome meal for the hunter's family, while the pelt can be made into warm clothing.
Mohan's photographs of the stark landscape, the isolation of the hunt, and most of all the trusting relationship between man and bird, convey the huge importance that the eagle plays in the lives of the last remaining Kazakh hunters. This is an enthralling, timely record of these noble men and their majestic eagles in an unforgiving part of the planet.
"The photographs are absolutely exquisite"
– Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk
"Mohan captures the bond that develops between man and bird beautifully; he is a photographer who clearly has a deep respect for his subjects and photographs them in a most compassionate light. He tells an extraordinary story, as we witness a culture and tradition that will slowly be assimilated into the annals of memory."
– Amateur Photographer
- Hunting with Eagles
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Palani Mohan is a photographer whose work has been featured in many international publications, including National Geographic, Stern, Geo, the New York Times, Time and Newsweek. He has won awards from World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International, National Press Photographers Association, American Photo, Sony World Photography Awards and Communication Arts, among other organizations. He has previously published four books, including Hidden Faces of India (2002) and Vanishing Giants: Elephants of Asia (2008), and is currently based in Hong Kong.