Skip to main
Comrade Kyiv


The Eagle has Landed: Hunting with the Last Eagle Hunters in Kyrgyzstan

Nur-Sultan and his hunting partner, Sulukke


High above the southern shore of Issyk-Kul lake, in east Kyrgyzstan, we wait and watch for movement on the rocky hillside below. Movement means prey. And that means that the hunt is on for Sulukke, our Golden Eagle. For centuries, the nomadic people of Central Asia have used eagles to hunt for food and fur. On one a freezing morning in December, I went hunting with Nur-Sultan, Kyrgyzstan’s most famous eagle hunter. 

The ancient tradition of hunting with Golden Eagles

The bond between eagle and man is strong. For thousands of years, the nomads who roamed the slopes of the steppe across Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia have tamed these giant birds, hunted alongside them, and then passed on that knowledge on to the next generation. Eagle and man, side by side. Hunting foxes, hares and even wolves to survive the long, cold winter months. 

Hunting with eagles was once widespread across the region. Almost every young man would prove his manhood by capturing a baby eagle, train it, and then hunt with it by his side. But, the practice of hunting with eagles was almost wiped out during the Soviet era. The state forced many nomad tribes to live in newly built towns and cities. Ancient rituals, traditions and local languages, were strongly discouraged, sometimes even banned. Today, there are just 50 eagle hunters left in Kyrgyzstan, an art that mostly survives on tourism. 

Human and animal, side-by-side

But, eagles are not pets. They’re hunting partners. An eagle hunter will steal an female eaglet from its nest when it just is 3 months old. Some men are killed when the eagle parent returns to its nest during the heist, and attacks them. The hunter will spend almost every waking moment of the next year by the eaglet’s side. Caring for her, feeding her by hand, talking and singing to her, as to build a special bond with his new hunting partner. 

When the eagle is a year old, the hunter will fasten a fox fur to a rope and drag it behind him to train her. After a few months, the eagle is ready to hunt live animals. This is the moment of truth, the test of the killer instinct. If successful, the eagle will spend 20 years with its human, before being released back into the wild to live out the next 20-30 years of its life. 

The hunt begins and finishes…

We start out on horseback. When the mountain path becomes too steep, we continue on foot. Hunting requires patience. We stop every 100 metres, and throw a rock into the scrub below in the hopes of disturbing a hare or fox. We scan the hillside below, watching for any movement. When a fox does eventually appear, Nur-Sultan removes the cap from Sulukke head so she can see. She immediately spreads her wings and soars it the valley…before coming to rest on a rock. The fox has already disappeared. 

After four hours, we hike back down the hill. We were not successful today, but Sulukke still needs to eat. Nur-Sultan uses a live rabbit to show me how the hunt works. It’s brutal and raw. Sulukke swoops down onto the rabbit, sinks her powerful talons into its soft fur and tears it apart piece by piece. The hunt is over.

Comrade Kiev creates sustainable, ethical, design-led tours to the most incredible places on earth. Roads at the Roof of the World grants travellers a rare glimpse of lands largely untouched ideological undulations, and the people who call them home. Explore tour

Let’s Tidy Up Our Environment | Lithuania | 1972£350.00
List of all posters

Further Reading


The Ekranoplan - The Colossal Soviet-era Aquatic Plane that Never Was

With its short wingspan, the top-secret Soviet naval vessel would look more at home beneath the waves than above them. Classified as a ship by the International Maritime Organization, the 350-ton Lun-class Ekranoplan flew at speeds of 550 kilometres per hour, just a few metres above the waves. But just one was ever built.


Soviet Intourist Travel Posters - How the USSR Used Art & Propaganda to Drive Tourism

Intourist held a monopoly on tourism in the USSR. As the only tourism agency in the Soviet Union, Intourist was responsible for attracting and accommodating all tourists. Like every other industry or ideal in the USSR, Intourist used propaganda to advance its agenda. Posters targeted western audiences. They portrayed the Soviet Union as a glamorous and exotic land rather than a country of labourers and peasants.


The OG of Photoshop: The Fabrication of Photographs in Stalin’s Soviet Surveillance State

It’s 1922, and a photograph of Stalin and Lenin sitting side-by-side appears in every newspaper across the Soviet Union. But everything wasn’t as it seemed. The photograph was a fake. It’s thought this photograph was the first time that Stalin used photo technicians to create a new reality, his version of reality.


The Trans-Siberian Railroad - The Railroad that Changed the World and Started a War

9,198 kilometres of tracks connect Moscow to the Pacific port of Vladivostok. As the longest railroad in the world, the Trans-Siberian Railway is truly one of humanity’s most impressive engineering feats. But, this symbol of Soviet power has also had an outsized impact on the world at large. Its construction was the catalyst for a war between two superpowers, it transported millions of prisoners to the Gulags, and served as a lifeline during the Second World War.
+44 7397 297470
london, UK
london, UK
+44 7397 297470
We will never sell your personal information. Read our privacy policy.
condition guide
shipping & returns