International Specialised Expo

14/06/1981 - 12/07/1981

Earth - Planet of Life

Official Designation
Hunting World Exposition, Plovdiv 1981

Area (ha)


The Culture of Hunting in Modern Society

While the organisation of hunting exhibitions dates back to the late 19th century, Expo 1981 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, was only the second World Hunting Exhibition to be organised under the auspices of the BIE, following Expo 1971 in Budapest. Recognised by the 87th General Assembly of the BIE on 12 June 1980, Expo 1981 was the first 'Specialised Expo' to be organised under new BIE rules adopted in 1972 - prior to this, Expos were classified as 'General' or 'Special' Expos.

Expo 1981 was dedicated to the specific theme of Hunting, but the large number of exhibits and their themes explored the historical relationship between humankind and wildlife. Furthermore, a range of environmental issues were showcased, making it one of the earlier Expos to have an ecological focus.

The Expo took place on the site of the Plovdiv International Fair, with 70 countries demonstrating their hunting and fishing achievements, equipment and trophies in 34 different pavilions. Throughout the duration of the Expo, activities were organised including hunting dog trials, equestrian, fishing and shooting competitions, as well as falconry demonstrations.

Additionally, a festival of films focused around nature was organised as part of the Expo.

Scientific Symposium

The Scientific Symposium was the pivotal event at Expo 1981. Over five days, representatives from the international scientific bodies discussed the protection and rational use of natural resources. These scientists emphasised the idea of the Expo as focusing on the human obligation to protect biodiversity, as life on earth is in our hands.

The main theme of the Symposium was “Game and Environment", which was divided into two sections: “Agriculture, Forest and Game” and “Safety and Production of Game Animals”. The scientists, based on the experience of many countries, emphasised the the effectiveness of implementing game farming management, the acclimatisation of new species of animals, and the breeding of new hybrid species resistant to harmful environmental influences (noise, air pollution and landscape changes).

Alongside the Symposium, several round tables were organised, specialising in veterinary and food medicine.

Hunting Trophies

Some 12,000 hunting trophies collected over the previous 100 years were displayed at the Expo. These included the horns, skins and tusks, with ‘Grand Prix’ awards going to the world champions.

The evaluation of hunting trophies was more than simple classification on a point-based system, it also allowed observers to obtain information on the population of species, environmental changes, genetics and breeding.


Two further Specialised Expos have since been organised on the site of Expo 1981 – the Plovdiv International Fair. These focused on Young Inventors and took place in 1985 and 1991.

The Expo was marked by a series of commemorative coins and stamps that continue to be prized to this day.