These bittersweet images tell the incredible story of a photographer who spent time living with a remote tribe in Mongolia—who hunt with eagles.
The tribe have used golden eagles to hunt prey during the bleak winter months for centuries, an extraordinary example of a relationship between humans and semi-wild animals.
However, the ancient tradition is becoming rarer and these eagle hunters may very well be the LAST of their kind.
There are an estimated 250 eagle hunters in Bayan-Ölgii, which is located in the Altai Mountains of western Mongolia.
It takes five years to finish training with eagles and become an eagle hunter or “berkutchi.”
During this period, the hunter must gain the eagle’s trust by showing respect and gentleness or it might fly away and never come back.
Once the eagle is old enough, its skills honed, the berkutchi, and his horse, work together with the golden eagle to predominantly catch prey for food.
The eagle’s primary object is to catch the prey and grasp it long enough for the hunter to seize it. The eagles are given a piece of meat as a reward after the hunt.
Sadly, modern Kazakh eagle hunters are dwindling, with the younger generation moving away to cities, and preferring the comforts of modern living.
Despite this, many eagle hunters pass on their skills to their sons and daughters.
Zay Yar, a 36-year-old photographer, spent some time in western Mongolia documenting the life of these incredible people.
He captured the incredible traditions as the tribe hunt on horseback and care for their eagles.
“I’m interested in the culture of eagle hunters. How they live, how they train and hunt with their golden eagles and how this tradition is going on,” said Zay, from Myanmar.
“During our visit, we asked Kazakh eagle hunters to demonstrate the culture of eagle hunting and how their tradition is being passed to their next generation.
“Kazakh people are very friendly and their practice of hunting with golden eagles on their horseback is not an easy task.
“I was happy and amazed to meet these wonderful people and their ancient tradition.
“The images represent the culture of eagle hunting and how the tradition is being passed to young eagle hunters.
“This amazing eagle hunting tradition is dying today. People can feel how they maintain this ancient practice of eagle hunting and how it is difficult to become a berkutchi through my images.”