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Butchered for Trophies (Namibia)


This is the Namibian taxidermy factory – where over 6,000 animals are stuffed every year for trophy hunters.

These intriguing images were taken inside the workshop of Louw Mel, just outside the capital Windhoek – where business is apparently booming.

The animals are reportedly particularly popular with super-rich Germans and Americans – who pay up almost £60,000 to have their creature of choice shot, stuffed and shipped.

Louw’s 45 professional staff skin the animals, before tanning the skin and dividing up the meat – which is all regarded as a delicacy, except for snake meat.

Then, the animal is stuffed with a foam mold, the skin is hand-sewn, and glass eyes are attached.

Taxidermy is legal in Namibia, and one anonymous hunting guide said: ‘If you have enough money, you can usually shoot what you want.”

The factory also makes other animal skin products, such as this rug made from a lion skin
Elephants are the most expensive wild animal to stuff, costing a colossal £31,000 to stuff at the Namibian taxidermy company
In the workshop, after an animal has been stuffed, imperfections are painted over
A worker can be seen putting the last finishing touches to a stuffed mammal
Taxidermy is completely legal in Namibia, and insiders say that if you have enough money, you can hunt any creature you want
Hundreds of stuffed animals wait to be shipped in Louw Mel’s ghoulish taxidermy factory
The Namibian authorities do outline a quota on how many animals can be killed, but the reality is thought to be much less strict
Business at the factory is said to be going extremely well, as taxidermy has become extremely popular with wealthy white westerners
The first part of the process involves removing the animal’s skin outside, before tanning it
Each species has its own mold in three sizes – small medium and large – to cater for all animals hunted in the wild
After the skin has been removed, the meat is divided up among locals, who treat all meat except snake meat as a delicacy
The molds are filled with a thick liquid foam, which is used to stuff the animals
The molds are removed after the foam completely hardens into the required animal shape
Here, workers can be seen filing the foam until the animal skin fits exactly around it to produce as realistic an effect as possible
The animal’s skin is then hand-sewn around the foam, before glass eyes are added
Every week, dozens of wealthy tourists dressed in khaki safari outfits visit private reserves
At the workshop, prices for the 35 most popular animals are listed – including elephants, big cats, rhinos and giraffes
Creating the stuffed animals requires precise measurements to ensure the skin fits exactly around the mold
The factory is home to scores of molds to meed the great demand from trophy hunter customers
The shocking image shows a leopard at the factory after its skin has been removed
An average private property is as large as 5,000 hectares, where many wild animals live – meaning there is lots of opportunity for hunters
Just shipping the animals abroad costs thousands – but for many of the factory’s customers, money is no object
Price to actually hunt the creatures vary – with farmers charging over £6,000 to shoot a rhino, for example
Meanwhile, alligators are a cheaper option, and are priced by the metre
Here, a leopard is expertly fitted around a precise foam mold by one of the factory’s taxidermists
The molds are marked before the skin is attached – another step in ensuring the creatures look as perfect as possible
Creating the animal figures is a long process, which ends with the skin being hand-sewn back onto the animal, as this worker demonstrates
The factory employs 45 professional workers to skin, stuff and sew the animals
As well as rugs and figures, the animals can be transformed into other decorative items such as these wall hangings
The workshop also features attractive displays to show off its unique work
The private nature reserves where the animals are hunted are owned by white farmers specifically for big game hunting
A worker carefully places the skin of an elephant over a giant mold of its trunk, complete with tusks
Here, a fully completed leopard can be seen waiting to be shipped to its new owner
One of the final steps is attaching the glass eyes. Each species has its own type of eye
Louw purchases the glass eyes from specialised suppliers in Europe
A customer is seen at the factory, where a variety of completed stuffed animals are displayed

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