Sonar-2021 national sports tournament brings together more than 80 eagle hunters in Kazakhstan


NUR-SULTAN – The Sonar-2021 National Sports Tournament hosted more than 80 eagle hunters from 11 teams from across the country from November 25 to 28 in the Yeskeldi district of the Almaty region, reports zakon.kz. This year, the competition was dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the independence of Kazakhstan and the day of the first president.

Each bird hunts specific species of animals. Photo credit: press service of the Department of Physical Education and Sports of the Almaty region.

The juries chose five winners in the hunting category with berkut and three winners in the hunting with falcon, hawk and tazy in each category. The total cash prize for the tournament was 4 million tenge.

Bird hunting is an ancient tradition, dating back to the so-called Andronov period in the Bronze Age of the 16-14th centuries BC., but it is still popular among the Kazakhs. Berkutchi or kuzbegi (hereditary eagle hunters) have learned the art of training provocative eagles since childhood and have passed on the tradition over the generations.

According to Kazakh archaeologist and scientist Karl Bailapov, 25 mounds found in Kazakhstan serve as graves for Saka kings who were buried with their birds of prey. The symbiosis of a feathered predator and a hunter, a battle between nature and man – it’s not just a capture of prey – it’s a spectacular action, a magical ritual, and part of the life of a modern nomad.

The qualifying phases lasted for three days while the tournament was held in two phases, during which the birds of prey were tested on their training and hunting skills. The birds had to easily find their owners, hunt hares, pigeons and pheasants.

There was also a hunting competition among the tazys – a unique Kazakh breed of dogs. This rare breed with extremely good eyesight and scent can run at speeds of up to 90 kilometers per hour.

The Tazys are considered to be one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. Photo credit: press service of the Department of Physical Education and Sports of the Almaty region.

Tazy is one of the jety kazyna (seven treasures) of the Kazakh people, the dog is considered the most reliable and closest friend of nomads. It is believed that a true dzhigit (rider and fighter) has a swift horse, a gray tazy and a far-sighted eagle. In exchange for a puppy of this breed, Kazakh hunters were often willing to give up what was less important to them, such as brides!

“This is the second time that our team has participated in the tournament which was held in the Almaty region and both were organized at a high level. This time we brought three berkuts (Asian golden eagle), a hawk and a hawk. The main purpose of this competition is to preserve our national heritage for the next generation, as it is both sporting and artistic. There are a lot of elderly people among the participants, so this should serve as an example for the younger generation, ”said Zhalgas Akimbekov, who came from Zhambyl region to participate.


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