Hunting with golden eagles is a badge of identity for Kazakhs, the ethnic minority who inhabits the rugged western edge of Mongolia. The best hunting season is winter when wolves, foxes and rabbits are in their best fur. First, the hunter takes his well-trained eagle to a high peak overlooking a wide valley. Once a prey is spotted, the hunter releases his eagle, and then the eagle will glide down at an alarmingly sedate pace and tackle its prey to the ground. The hunter will quickly ride up to despoil the struggling prey from the eagle. Later on, the lung of the animal will be fed to the eagle as a reward and the skin will be used for clothing. Although modernization progresses in Mongolia, Mongolian Kazakhs’ habit of nomadism persists, so does the love and knowledge of falconry.
Originally being educated as an engineer, Yan Li received his Ph.D. degree from Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX in 2012. In his journeys around the world, Dr. Li focuses on interacting with locals, gaining deep insight into the society, and capturing the fascinating yet vanishing cultures. He shares his photography portfolios to highlight the challenges which our culture diversity is facing during the rapid urbanization and globalization. He is the winner and finalist of various prestigious awards, including the International Photography Awards (IPA), the Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3), the Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) and the National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year.