This article first appeared on RTL.de.
They are critically endangered or bred to be shot: on the 'hunt
Forest elephants, giraffes, rhinos, cheetahs: there is hardly an animal at the "Hund und Jagd" fair that is safe from gunfire. According to "Pro Wildlife", a total of 82 exhibitors will offer trophy hunting trips there. "Even hunts that are particularly contrary to animal welfare, for example on lions bred in hunting farms, are offered. Although such offers are prohibited according to the rules of the fair, the fair management does not take action," criticizes Dr. Mona Schweizer from Pro Wildlife.
Flyers and posters show that the animals are actually sold off at bargain prices. If you want to kill a lioness – or a rare white lion – you are there with 4,000 euros. The life of a forest elephant is worth 5,000 euros. You can also get a cheetah, free to shoot, for 4,000 euros. There are only 6,600 of the animals left worldwide. The forest elephant is also on the list of endangered species. According to media reports, the population in Gabon's Minkébé National Park has dropped from 36,000 to 7,000 in just ten years. Frightening: According to the organization, killing baboons and jackals should even be free.
Outlawed even among hunters: the so-called "Canned Hunting". It involves hunting animals raised in captivity. They are practically born to end up as a trophy on a wall. In a statement from 2015, the state hunters' association of North Rhine-Westphalia positioned itself clearly against this form of hunting - Messe Dortmund is said to have agreed to this. Specifically, it says: "The NRW state hunting association and the Dortmund trade fair management have taken a stand against so-called 'canned hunting', the hunt for animals raised in captivity. In the run-up to the 'Jagd
But reality looks different. Exhibitors like Carlo Engelbrecht still offer trips where you can kill these same captive-bred animals - and he's openly communicating that. An offer flyer reads "Captive-Bred Lions" - in German: lions bred in captivity.
RTL reached Engelbrecht by phone at the fair. "What I sell at the fair is not banned in South Africa," he explains. He inherited a farm from his father and converted the land back into a natural habitat. Several generations of rhinos would live there. But when animals get too old to reproduce, it would be better to monetize them. "We then put the income back into nature conservation," says Carlo Engelbrecht. You can only keep a certain number of animals on a certain piece of land. So what to do when there are too many? "We have to regulate the inventory," he says. And keeping and protecting the animals costs money. He gets that from hunting. And what about the lions? He doesn't breed the animals himself, he says. But he works with people. "I myself hunt breeding lions."
But he is also willing to talk: "I invite all critics to my farm, free of charge. And if there is something seriously to criticize after a week, then I'm ready to change things." But he has little use for people who scold him but have never been to Africa themselves. In conclusion, he states: "The animals chatter with me, and they only do that when they are happy!"
And the Dortmund trade fair? When asked by RTL, Robin Uhlenbruch, company spokesman for the Westfalenhallen Group, explained: "Messe Dortmund carries out continuous checks with experts over the entire period of the trade fair. Despite the voluntary commitment mentioned, individual violations were found during these checks. The exhibitors were immediately asked to remove illegal offers ."
Hunting polar bears, for example, is "a right of the Inuit enshrined in international law, which can also pass these rights on to third parties". Sustainably regulated hunting would ensure local incomes, habitats and wildlife protection. There are scientifically proven examples of this in Africa, Asia, North and South America.
Messe Dortmund also contradicts the accusation that violations of animal and species protection are tolerated. "We are already in contact with Pro Wildlife and have asked them to send us specific information about possible violations," said Uhlenbruch. Contrary to the accusation made by Pro Wildlife, the fair would check every tip. "If it turns out that there has actually been a violation, Messe Dortmund will take immediate action," said the spokesman. So far, however, no concrete information has been received from "Pro Wildlife".
And indeed: when we call Carlo Engelbrecht after the conversation with Messe Dortmund, he is in the process of masking off the advertising that contains "Canned Hunting" and "Captive-Bred Lions".
The city of Dortmund also responded to an RTL request. "As announced in the past, politically discussed and decided, the city of Dortmund will set up an ethics committee," writes spokesman Frank Bussmann. The mayor's ethics committee will "discuss ethical issues of urban society and thus offer the City Council of Dortmund a basis for decision-making on various topics". And further: "The topic of trophy travel, which is now being addressed as part of the Jagd und Hund fair, will be part of the forthcoming work of the commission." The commission is scheduled to start its work in the first half of the year.