Ungarns letzte Feldhamstser | David Cebulla Naturfilme

Legal hamster hunt in Hungary

Although the Common hamster is threatened with extinction worldwide and is strictly protected in the EU, the Hungarian population is an exception to the EU regulations. Here, the species may still be hunted from March to May under certain conditions. This exception exists because of the formerly strong distribution and the bad reputation of the rodents.

That is why the nature filmmaker David Cebulla also filmed in Hungary for his documentary “The Last Common Hamsters”. Here he interviewed the last commercial field hamster hunter in the EU. With the decline of the fur industry, hamster hunting turned into a service for agriculture since the 1990s. After three decades, the last business now had to close down: In recent years, there were simply too few hamsters.

David Cebulla returned to Hungary in May 2023 to film the rare species. Where the filmmaker was able to find hamster burrows a year earlier, the search is now in vain. Local residents just shake their heads when asked about Common hamsters. In large parts of the country, perhaps single animals still remain. This is also dramatic, since the Hungarian populations are descended from a different genetic lineage than the Western European occurrences.

Einer der letzten seiner Art: ein wilder Feldhamster in Ungarn, Mai 2023 (David Cebulla)
One of the last of its kind: a wild Common Hamster in Hungary, Mai 2023 (David Cebulla)

What has already happened in Hungary is about to happen to us! (David Cebulla)

After intensive research, David Cebulla was able to locate a last known population through a Hungarian zoologist. The populations have collapsed in the years 2021 and 2022. This means that the European hamster is almost extinct in large parts of Hungary. Cebulla therefore also looks critically on Germany: “We are observing the extinction of a species. What has already happened in Hungary is about to happen to us if we don’t act immediately!” warns the studied ecologist.

In Germany, the European hamster is threatened with extinction, too. In addition to the climate crisis and a lack of support for species protection in agriculture, construction projects are a major threat. Despite the special protection status of the species, the sealing of hamster habitats is being approved again and again. Cebulla therefore says: “With the collapse of the Hungarian occurrences, the protection of the Common hamster in Germany is all the more important. Politicians still do not take the problem seriously enough.”