KOKSHETAU – Kansonar, the championship dedicated to the memory of legendary falconer Masip Batyrkhanuly, will soon celebrate its 12th year. The open championship for masters of falconry is regularly staged in honour of the Independence Day of Kazakhstan on Dec. 16.
Falconers come to the city from almost all parts of the republic. The championship is held in three qualifying stages; the masters compete in the ability of their winged hunters to find prey from the bird’s-eye view and immediately intercept it – first bait, then fast hares and cunning foxes. The competitions allow for the selection of the best birds in catching a big predator like a wolf.
Despite the fierce December frost, the competition gathers a lot of fans of the national sport. According to the organisers of these spectacular events, the main objectives of Kansonar are popularising of national sports, patriotic education of youth in the spirit of Kazakh national traditions and promotion of healthy lifestyles.
“My grandfather, Masip, in the 1930s was one of the best hunters of our land, supplying Russia with fur and saving his countrymen from hunger,” said Shynarbek Batyrkhan, head of the Akmola Regional Tourism Department. “Up to 70 years old, he went hunting with eagles. When he had bad eyesight, he went to the mountains and let the bird free. His feathered friend returned to him thrice, not knowing and not perceiving parting with his master. In honour of my grandfather and his love for eagles, I established the Masip Batyrkhanuly prize and annually present it to the best juniors in Kansonar.”
A permanent Kansonar participant, Makpal Abdrazakova with her eagle named Ak Zhelke (White Withers), is from the Karaganda region. Today, she is the only girl hunter in the country. The eagle sat on Abdrazakova’s arm for the first time 13 years ago and since then she and her bird of prey have been the best of friends.
Falconers, known all over the country during their participation in Kansonar, include Faizulla Burkutbai from the Almaty region, Umutkhan Tastambek and Ablaikhan Zbasov of the Akmola region, Serik Abdrazakov from the Kazakganda region, Imanzaip Tassybayev from the Pavlodar region and many others. All of them can be considered the heirs of the glory of Batyrkhanuly.
Thanks to his hunting, Batyrkhanuly saved his aul (village) from starvation in the 1930s and in 1941, having sent his son Berkutbai to the front during World War II and continued to produce valuable furs despite his advanced age. The pelts were sent abroad from Moscow and the income helped with ammunition for the front.
For his contribution to the victory Batyrkhanuly was awarded the medal “For selfless work during the Great Patriotic War.” He is also the only owner in Kazakhstan of the high award “Excellence in Hunting of the USSR.”
Kazakhs were anciently engaged in hunting with eagles. In the famine years, one eagle could feed a whole village, which is why in the old days a few camels were given as a price for a well-trained bird and these days such an eagle can cost as much as a prestigious car. Today in Kazakhstan, there are quite a few such professionals with skill in falconry. They still organise tournaments and identify the best hunters.
Batyrkhanuly was born in 1885 in Botai aul of the Aiyrtau district. His brother, Kami, died in the fighting on the Leningrad front and his son returned from the war with combat awards – the Order of the Great Patriotic War of the first degree and medals for courage and military merit. Today, the grandsons Munarbek, Shynarbek and Temirbek and great-grandchildren of the legendary hunter continue his activity by maintaining the falconers movement in Kazakhstan. Shynarbek was elected president of the Falconers Federation of the Akmola region.
In honour of the 125th anniversary of his birth, Batyrkhanuly was awarded a special cup from the Falconers Federation of Kazakhstanin 2010for his great contribution to the development of the falconry movement. Fourteen masters of falconry from different regions of the country are the holders of honoraryMasip Batyrkhanuly diplomas.