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Macalester College

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Mongolia: Nomadism, Geopolitics, and the Environment


The last large scale practice of falconry that uses Golden Eagles takes place in Bayan- Ulgii, Mongolia. Recent media exposure allowed for the development of a tourism industry in the region that culminates in two annual festivals celebrating the cultural heritage. Modern eagle falconry practices have been shown to deviate from traditional hunting and training methods. While Golden Eagles are listed with a regional conservation status of Least Concern by the Mongolian Red List, these new practices place the health of Golden Eagle populations in the region at risk, especially as tourism continues to grow. Furthermore, a changing environmental climate and Mongolia’s susceptibility to climate change and desertification put not only the eagles, but also their prey base at risk.

This research examined perspective of local environmental officials, tourism representatives, and local eagle hunters with respect to the status of Golden Eagles, their prey base, the health of the general ecosystem, and how tourism and modern eagle falconry practices have diverged from historical norms and the impact of such changes. Findings in literature were reviewed against the responses of Uglii officials as well as hunters from the countryside. The results show conflicting perceptions of the stability of eagle populations in the area and slight decreases in the prey base of golden eagles. In addition, data revealed that eagle hunters perceive the land of the countryside to be generally lessening in health. Falconers and officials cited growing numbers of livestock as the reason for decreasing pasturelands. Analysis of falconry methods also showed that eagle hunters are turning to trapping as the main source of attaining the raptors, and there is a growing base of people that only hold eagles for business and tourism purposes.

More research should be conducted into the absolute status of the prey base to confirm local observations. The market for eagles should be examined more thoroughly, and more quantitate data should be collected in regard to land type change and other major threats to Golden Eagle populations.


Animal Sciences | Animal Studies | Asian Studies | Community-Based Research | Environmental Studies | Geography | Nature and Society Relations | Place and Environment


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