Monday, 1 July 2013

Palani Mohan | The Kazakh Eagle Hunters

Photo © Palani Mohan-All Right Reserved
The practice of eagle hunting in Kazakhstan was almost eradicated during the Soviet era, however the ancient tradition is coming back with a vengeance.

Kazakhstan is the world's largest landlocked country by land area, and the ninth largest country in the world with a territory larger than Western Europe. Hunting with eagles is unique to the country and Kyrgyzstan, and there are now more than 50 eagle handlers in Kazakhstan. Most of those make a living posing for tourist photographs, but a handful still ride the steppes to hunt live prey.

Falconry developed in Central Asia and for many centuries, Kazakh men have hunted from horseback with trained golden eagles, the largest and most powerful of raptors. Rabbits, fox and sometimes wolves are hunted for their fur by the Berkutchi (Kazakh for eagle hunter).

Documenting this hunting tradition, Palani Mohan has featured two wonderful monochrome photo essays on his website. I've featured his photographic work at least three times on this blog.

Born in Chennai, India, Palani moved to Australia as a child. His photographic career started at the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, and he's now based in Hong Kong.

His work has been published by many of the world's leading magazines and newspapers including National Geographic, Stern, Time, Newsweek, and The New York Times. He also published three photographic books. His work has been recognized with awards from World Press Photo, Picture of the Year, National Press Photographers Association, American Photo and Communication Arts. He is represented by Getty Images' Reportage Group in New York.