Flying Eagles, Flying Home
The wind's of change...
Having got a tip off from a young Kazakh girl, that her Uncle was a renowned eagle and horse trainer, we eagerly made the trip out to see him. He owned a small eagle farm, where he trained eagles (which weigh up to 15kg) to hunt wolves and other animals out on the steppe, as well as training horses for all the traditions Kazakh horse games (Kok Par, Kyz Ku etc). Having heard about these famed eagle hunters we very excited by the prospects of seeing them in action, however being the end of winter with snow all around, a visit out to the steppe with the horses and eagles was out of the question, the wolves anyway would be hiding out the winter.
Arriving at his farm, we were immediately greeted by the high pitched loud shrieking and calling of these eagles. These eagles were baby’s he explained to us, only 9kg, their claws(around 3 inches long) and beaks however looked large and sharp enough to easily rip a human too shreds. He said that even these baby eagles were used for hunting wolves, due to their ferocity and strength. The Kazakh nomads had a fearsom reputation as eagle hunters, their large eagles (much like you would image a gryphon to look like) allowing them to hunt otherwise uncatchable animals that roamed the vast steppe, and thus these eagles, were very much bound up in the culture and heritage.
Baltibi (the owners name) put on a brief demonstration for us, bringing his eagle out on the arm of another of the eagle trainers, the eagle perched upon a very thick leather and felt glove to protect the trainer. Next a young apprentice (he looked around 13 years old) unfurled a skin of an animal, attached to a long rope, and proceeded to run as fast as he could to the edge of the property. The trainer throwing the eagle up in to their, it sped off dive bombing straight into the animal skin in a powerful display of its efficiency as a killing machine, clutching it in its huge claws until the trainer arrived to bring it back. These eagles are like nothing else, efficiently honed killing machines of immense speed, strength, and with huge razor sharp claws and beaks.
On a sad note, we have lamentably had to come to the end of our trip now, due to some unforeseen financial difficulties, but have vowed to return to complete the rest of our journey when we have managed to secure some more funding. The director of the Eco museum here has kindly offered to hang Quikey up as a display in the museum (hung from the roof, out of reach of fiddling hands) like a large dinosaur skeleton, already preassembled for when we return back for part 2 of the journey. Right now we're knuckling down to work on our documentary and book, trying to raise funds for our schools project, and trying to raise some more money to return for part 2 of our journey.