Inside Europe’s biggest hunting fair where trophy hunters buy and sell grim goods
EXCLUSIVE: At Germany’s Jagd & Hund ‘Hunting and Dog’ trade fair trophy hunters and buyers travel from around the world to trade in the slaughter of wild animals in the name of sport
With a smile on her face, a middle-aged woman invites me to try a dining room chair for comfort.
She confirms matter-of-factly the £1,189 chair is made from zebra hide.
We are in a vast conference centre full of animal skins, hunting trophies – and some unpleasant people.
It is only 10.30am but the room is already packed with punters, some with kids in tow, others with furs – with the animal’s head still attached – draped around their shoulders.
NThe 45-year-old owns Take Aim Safaris, which offers trips to hunt lions, elephants, hippos, giraffes, leopards, zebras and a host of other species in South Africa and Zimbabwe. He boasts of having taken part in over 400 game hunts.
The shaven-headed hunter greeted visitors on his stall this weekend under a banner that said “your gateway to hunting”.
His brochure says: “I have personally hunted the big five and dangerous seven as a client. I know exactly what is required to make your safari a successful one. South Africa would also be ideal for family hunting holidays.”
Above – the Mirror reporter amongst the stands
Nearly 180 trophy hunting firms from around the world flocked to this six-day event – called Jagd & Hund, meaning Hunting and Dog – lauding the slaughter of wild animals in the name of sport.
Among the Brits cashing in on the bloodthirsty safaris was Carl Knight, born in Epsom, Surrey, and now living in South Africa with his wife and two children.
Defending his organised shoots of wild animals in Africa, he says on his website: “Hunters are real conservationists, we are doing good work, we won’t be discouraged.”
Last night conservationists blasted the British presence at the convention.
Eduardo Goncalves, of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, said: “What an appalling ‘hobby’, and what a disgusting way to make a living.
“At this fair Carl Knight will have sold off the lives of countless defenceless animals to people who kill for kicks. He shames our country.
“People will be furious that the law still allows Brits to shoot zebras for a laugh and then have them skinned to turn into seat covers. How could anyone sit on them knowing the animal has died a cruel, callous and senseless death?”
Most stalls were lined with furs such as bears and springboks. There were stuffed animals including lions, hyenas and tigers.
Above – animal traps for sale.
There are now less than 4,000 tigers left in the wild, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Items on offer included traps, a fox cushion for £84, and a bear skin complete with head for £849.
Many stalls at the fair used zebra skins as makeshift tablecloths.
I also encountered hunters selling cut-price safaris to kill imperilled species such as giraffes for 3,000 euros (roughly £2,600).
The booth of Okambara Elephant Lodge was staffed by two women standing next to a trophy of a giraffe. One of the reps said she has been a hunting guide for three years, adding: “Hunting giraffes is rather easy because there are many roaming near the lodge.”
First Class Trophy, a taxidermy company based in Denmark, was punting a new smartphone app boasting “easy and fast” quotes for stuffing your animal of choice.
European trophy hunters have killed about 75,000 protected and threatened animals in the past decade.
It is estimated 7,000 threatened animals will be slaughtered and brought into Europe by trophy hunters in the coming months.
Manon Dene, from Humane Society International, said: “This kind of trophy hunting fair outlines how shockingly easy it is for individuals to travel almost anywhere in the world to shoot as many iconic or endangered species as their bank account allows.
“To witness an event like this taking place in the heart of Europe, that glorifies the killing of wild animals for thrills and bragging rights, was truly upsetting.”
The Mirror (UK) is campaigning for an end to the barbaric practice of trophy hunting.
We are calling on the (UK) Government to ban the import of animals that are shot for pleasure.
The Government is consulting until February 25 on whether trophy hunting imports should be outlawed.
Mr Goncalves said: “We have to do away with this evil ‘sport’. We may never get another chance to put an end to this disgrace. Let’s kick trophy hunting into touch once and for all.”
You can help the campaign by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and saying you support a total ban.