Category Archive 'Mongolia'

05 Sep 2017

Camel Coaxing Endangered!

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The Transcendental Ritual of Mongolian Camel Coaxing May Soon Be Lost Forever
Khuus, khuus, khuus
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15 Dec 2016

There’s Cool And Then There’s Being a Mongolian with an AK-47 and a Pet Snow Leopard Cool

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03 Aug 2016

Hunting With Eagles in the Altai Mountains

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MongolianwEagle

Hong-Kong based photojournalist Palani Mohan recently delivered a TED Talk in Sydney describing his personal project photographing the last surviving Eagle Hunters in the Altai Mountains in Western Mongolia.

His photographs were featured in Mother Jones last December.

05 Dec 2015

Hunting Wolves with Eagles in Central Asia

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16 Apr 2014

13-Year-Old Girl Hunts With an Eagle

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GirlwithEagle
13 Year-Old Ashol-Pan with friend

The BBC did a recent feature of a 13-Year-Old Kazakh girl who is carrying on an unusual form of traditional hunting.

Most children, Asher Svidensky says, are a little intimidated by golden eagles. Kazakh boys in western Mongolia start learning how to use the huge birds to hunt for foxes and hares at the age of 13, when the eagles sit heavily on their undeveloped arms. Svidensky, a photographer and travel writer, shot five boys learning the skill – and he also photographed Ashol-Pan.

“To see her with the eagle was amazing,” he recalls. She was a lot more comfortable with it, a lot more powerful with it and a lot more at ease with it.”

The Kazakhs of the Altai mountain range in western Mongolia are the only people that hunt with golden eagles, and today there are around 400 practising falconers. Ashol-Pan, the daughter of a particularly celebrated hunter, may well be the country’s only apprentice huntress.

They hunt in winter, when the temperatures can drop to -40C (-40F). A hunt begins with days of trekking on horseback through snow to a mountain or ridge giving an excellent view of prey for miles around. Hunters generally work in teams. After a fox is spotted, riders charge towards it to flush it into the open, and an eagle is released. If the eagle fails to make a kill, another is released.

The skill of hunting with eagles, Svidensky says, lies in harnessing an unpredictable force of nature. “You don’t really control the eagle. You can try and make her hunt an animal – and then it’s a matter of nature. What will the eagle do? Will she make it? How will you get her back afterwards?”

01 Feb 2012

Rocking Mongolian Girls

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An elderly ex-marine forwarded this video to the Japanese sword listserv. He liked the pretty Mongol girls and thought their music rocked.

25 Nov 2011

Cabinet Minister & Wife Competed in World’s Most Grueling Horse Race

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Owen and Rose Paterson riding in the Mongol Derby

Alright, we have to admit it: the Brits really do have some politicians superior to ours.

Conservative cabinet minister Owen Paterson was keen enough to compete, accompanied by his wife, in this year’s Mongol Derby, a thousand kilometer (621.37 miles) charity race over the Mongol steppes modeled on Genghis Khan’s postal system. Riders have to change semi-wild ponies three times a day in an attempt to cover roughly 40 miles per diem.

The Telegraph reports that the Patersons did successfully complete the race, and survived with quite a story to tell.

Owen and Rose Paterson are competing for words to describe their summer holiday. “It was absolutely awful,” says Rose. “The food was beyond terrible,” chips in Owen.

This year, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and his wife did not play safe. On a whim – their children called it “midlife crisis” – they took part in a 1,000-kilometre race for charity, across the desolate steppes of Mongolia on semi-wild horses. “Anything to avoid security guards,” Owen semi-joked when I spoke to him in July for a Weekend article published just before they set off.

“Anything” turned out to be grimmer than their worst imaginings. Injury was likely and death a possibility, warned The Adventurists, organisers of the race. But, as the Patersons left for Ulan Bator to start the Mongol Derby in August, they had only the haziest notion of what lay ahead. “If we had had any idea we would have turned around and gone straight home,” says Rose. …

[T]hey arrived in the Mongolian capital in early August with too much equipment and no experience of using a satnav – which was all that stood between them and 10 sub-zero nights in the open air as they hurtled across the wilds, recreating the postal network that had held together Genghis Khan’s vast 13th-century empire.

The start close to Ulan Bator was deceptively luxurious, featuring showers and a relatively benign landscape. “We were all smiles as we set off,” remembers Rose. “The views were fantastic. On that first day we thought we might be among the winners.”

But the race, they discovered, was a deadly mixture of terrifying and dull. Some days they rode for 14 hours through freezing fog, unable to see anything. Guided by a handheld satnav, which Owen set to “direct route”, they found themselves travelling extra miles, on top of the allotted 40 a day, through swamps and over mountains in order to arrive at the pony-swapping stations three times a day.

“The worst leg of each day was the last one,” says Rose. “If we missed the ger (Mongolian for yurt) we would have spent the night outside, with no food or drink, taking turns to hold onto the ponies.”

So prone were the ponies to wander, that they could not even get off to pee between pony swap stops. If the animals had bolted, the couple would have lost everything, including their passports.

Bleached bones dotted the steppes, and the landscape was pitted with marmot holes in which the ponies could break their legs. “We were constantly attacked by packs of dogs. At one point the ponies bolted and we galloped flat out for miles, knowing that if we fell off the dogs would eat us,” says Rose.

The most surreal moment occurred during the August riots back home, when Owen received a message that Parliament had been recalled. “Standing on the steppes, shouting into the vet’s phone under the stars, I had to tell the whips I would not be able to make it because I was 15 hours from Ulan Bator.”

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