Eagle falconry, Kazakh traditional sport has been maintained from father to son for last 2000 years. Some say thousand years. In the past, on Central Asian steppes Kazakhs used to hunt with their golden eagles both as men’s sport and for income of some sort. Eagle hunt foxes, wild cats ( also called as pallas cats), rabbits and there are even some rumors that say they used to hunt wolves. There are two types of eagles that eagle falconers use to do the hunting. First one is the trained eagles which they catch from their nests when they are chicks, they bring them home and start grow them up and training them like their babies, after two years they become adult and start doing the real hunting. Second one is wild eagles that they catch from the nature by setting up nets and trapping them with some sort of food, usually rabbit meat etc. During Soviet union Mongolia was a satellite Soviet republic and not much of these activities , traditions were allowed during the soviet union later in 1990 became independent after the peaceful revolution. People restarted to practice their religion and traditions again. With the growing of tourism in Mongolia an eagle hunters’ association was founded and started to organize the eagle Festival tour in the year of 2000. Since then it is called the Main eagle festival tour or also called as Altay Golden Eagle Festival tour. Starting in the year of 2000 number of tourists attending the festival has significantly grown from 10 to over 2000 people each year from all over the world to see this event.
There are few different activities held during the eagle festival, competitions between eagle falconers, Kiz Kuar ( a man and a woman galloping on their horses woman chasing man and hitting him on his back) Kazakh traditional game, Tenge ilu, (men on horses picking up coins from the ground while they are galloping on their horses) also a Kazakh traditional game and a concert is held. Competitions among eagle hunters are, call back, eagle sitting on a rock, eagle falconer calls his eagle back to his arms, the fastest eagle gets the highest point. Next one is called Shirga, which a lure is dragged by someone and eagle is released from the top of mountain and fastest eagle which comes and catches the lure gets the highest point. Of course eagle festival is just a show, for someone who really wants to experience an eagle falconers life should stay and live with an eagle falconer and his family. Not just to see these activities but live the experience in person. There are so many things that can not be explained by words but that can be experienced.