The legendary “magical connection” that the Nomadic Dukha people of Northern Mongolia share with the region’s animals and landscape seems more like myth than fact. But when you see a Mongolian elder rearing his steed with an enormous golden eagle perched on his shoulder you might reconsider that notion.
The Dukha people live a life of herding and riding reindeer, training wolves and teaching golden eagles to hunt for the clan.
Their intimate relationship with reindeer poses multiple benefits. The Dukha people use them as hunting steeds, yield their milk to make cheese and make extra money through tourism, offering reindeer rides, crafts and performances to travellers who might find the domesticity of reindeer a little unusual.
The Dukha people also hunt rabbits with the assistance of their highly-trained wolves and golden eagles, which they can trade for about $2 (USD). Wild elk and boar are also hunted by the Dukha.
You can learn more about the Dukha people in Sardar’s film, The Reindeer People, in which he documents the seasonal migrations of one family as they, “move with a herd of about a hundred reindeer through a sacred forest inhabited by the spirits of their ancestors, who communicate to the living through songs.”