Why you should avoid Mongolia's Eagle Hunting Festival

Image: Cam Cope
Image: Cam Cope

As part of our continued drive to ensure our adventures adhere to the strictest standards of animal welfare, we have removed the eagle hunting festival from our Mongolia program.

The decision was taken in consultation with World Animal Protection, the leading organisation that assists in our company’s comprehensive Animal Welfare Code of Conduct.

Although it is not our place to pass judgement on the long-held cultural tradition of eagle hunting in Mongolia, it is our place to remove tourism activities from our program that do not adhere to the principals of animal welfare,

World Expeditions Responsible Travel Manager, Donna Lawrence, says.

"The eagle hunting festival is a spectacle for tourists and the welfare of the eagles and their prey at the festival does not adhere to the universally accepted ‘Five Freedoms’ of animal welfare on which our animal welfare Code of Conduct is based."

Although the concept of the eagle hunting has cultural origins, the festival was first conceived in 1999 with the purpose of boosting tourism, according to World Animal Protection Senior Wildlife and Veterinary Advisor, Dr. Jan Schmidt-Burbach.

“The festival is a comparatively new event designed to attract tourism and the commercial aspect of the festival has unfortunately led to negative impacts on the welfare and the conservation of the eagles.”

A local eagle hunter, Mongolia |  <i>Cam Cope</i>Eagles are often used for hunting in Mongolia's steppe. Image: Cam Cope

How to experience Mongolia responsibly

Mongolia's expansive landscapes, rich history and cultural diversity makes the country a unique and magnetic place to explore. From the remote corners of the Gobi Desert to steppe grasslands, here are ways you can still enjoy your big adventure with a small footprint:

 •  Encounter diverse nomad communities and stay overnight in a family's ger, a circular felt tent used by nomadic people, for a fantastic cultural experience. In line with our Thoughtful Travel practices, we provide opportunities for travellers to interact with local people, so that knowledge is shared and the culture is understood and appreciated.

 •  Catch a performance of traditional Mongolian folk dance, music and throat singing in Ulaanbaatar

 •  Don’t miss the Naadam Festival, the country’s biggest annual party, where you can experience traditional costumes, dance, music, food and religious ceremonies, as well as watch local men and women compete in a huge two-day tournament of the country’s traditional sports.

 •  Camp under the stars in the open steppe and mountains on a fully supported trek. This is a great way to avoid overtourism hot spots, to immerse in nature and to seek a more remote adventure.

 •  Travel to remote frontiers by bike or on foot and learn about the nomadic culture in Western Mongolia. Know that the carbon footprint from your trip in Mongolia will be offset at no additional cost to you to support Positive Impact Projects that protect wildlife and help provide clean energy for communities. 

 •  Get back to nature and discover the Altai Mountain region, tracking and spotting wild mountain goats.

 •  Visit Khustain National Park, home of the takhi (Mongolian wild horse), or the Terelj National Park for horseback riding or a day hike. Instances where horses and camels are used, make sure they are hired from local people who manage the care and welfare of the animals. Our programs adhere to these as per our Animal Welfare Code of Conduct.

 •  Explore the ruins of Karakorum, the 13th century capital of Genghis Khan's Mongol empire and a significant city in the history of the Silk Road. It is set in the beautiful Orkhon Valley.

 •  Visit a wealth of petroglyphs, standing stones, and grave sites from the ancient past.



Authentic and realistic insight into Mongolia's open spaces and nomadic lifestyle lend themselves to an unforgettable outdoor experience. View our Mongolia adventures >

Published 19 June 2019.

thoughtful travel, responsible travel, animal welfare, mongolia, eagles, festivals

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