The nomads always considered hunting with birds and dogs as art. Today, there is a growing interest to traditional hunting in Kazakhstan. Specialized competitions are becoming increasingly popular. For example, Karaganda hosted the hunters’ kurultai, featuring the race of thoroughbred Kazakh greyhounds - tazy. Domestic experts seek recognition for these animals as national treasure. Kazakh greyhound is one of the oldest breeds of dogs. But international canine association has not yet recognize it.

INNA NAZARENKO, CHIEF CANINE SPECIALIST, REPUBLICAN HUNTERS’ ASSOCIATION:

We are selecting the best breeders. Because it often happens that some dogs are similar in exterior. When puppies are born, it turns out that they are Russian greyhound on the exterior. So we are selective. The breeding of tazy selection is underway.

The tazy’s special features include an outstanding ability to chase prey, observation, speed, and endurance. Kazakh greyhounds can run for days. The winner of the race Basar dog overcame a distance of 300 meters in 30 seconds.

The competition among the eagle hunters is also gaining popularity. The 11th Kazakhstan championship “Kansonar-2016” was held near Kokshetau. The strongest masters came from Astana, Akmola, Almaty, Atyrau, Aktobe, Zhambyl and Pavlodar regions. Kazakh ancestors hunted in the steppes with birds of prey a few thousand years ago. It has been proved by the Bronze Age petroglyphs. However, it is a challenge training and taming the predatory birds. It takes years to train a falcon, a hawk or an eagle. Mostly, family dynasties are involved in training the hunting birds. And the secrets of growing these birds are passed down from a generation to another.

ISLAM ABSALAM, CONTESTER:

My grandfather teaches me. He has been breeding birds of prey for forty years; I started only two years ago. I like my falcon; it is young yet. Friends also want to learn to eagle hunt, but they are scared. Although, there is nothing to be afraid. You got to love them. And then our traditional sport will be preserved.

BAZARBEK KUNTUGANULY, KAZAKHSTAN’S CHIEF COACH ON EAGLE HUNTING:

This year's competition with the birds of prey is officially recognized by the UNESCO. This is great and it gives us hope for further development of the sport. This is our heritage. More national sports schools have been opened in the regions.

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