Zambian authorities face international pressure to reconsider their decision to overturn the 2016 decision on suspension of the brutal culling of up to 2,000 hippos in the world-famous Luangwa Valley over the next five years. The cull is once again being promoted to trophy hunters as a prey, this time by the South African hunting outfitter Umlilo Safaris.
Wildlife charity, Born Free, who led efforts to stop the slaughter in 2016, is calling for the authorities to urgently re-consider and cancel this barbaric agreement that only benefits private safari hunting companies and trophy hunters, while cause long-term damage to nature, and local communities, who could enjoy benefits of developing of wildlife tourism.
Born Free President, Will Travers OBE, stated: “Our sources reveal that the government has moved swiftly to reinstate the cull, perhaps hoping this would go unnoticed. Far from it! They are, apparently, using the same flawed rational for the slaughter as last time – a preventative measure to avoid a future outbreak of anthrax, combined with an assertion that low rainfall will exacerbate the situation.”
“They also appear not to have informed key stakeholders in the Luangwa Valley, including the Luangwa Safari Association and the District Commissioner. The negative consequences for thousands of hippo and Zambia’s reputation as a wildlife tourism destination – the proposed cull site can be seen from the internationally renowned Chichele Lodge – cannot be underestimated”, the statement concludes.
There is a general disbelief that the official motives of the decision to allow massive culling of animals is genuine, there is no other opinion among the biologists, and conservationists about the anthrax disease being a fig leaf to disguise private hunting companies interest to gain swift profits at cost of devastating future of local communities, destroying their chances to promote a sustainable wildlife tourism.
The authorities had neither provided evidence demonstrating that there is an overpopulation of hippos in the Luangwa River nor proof such a hippo cull of healthy animals would prevent a future outbreak of anthrax, Travers continued. He also added that wild hippo numbers across Africa are under increasingly pressure with a maximum estimate of just 130,000 animals – about one-third of the number of the high-profile African elephant.
Furthermore, as efforts increase to end the trade in elephant ivory, hippos are being increasingly targeted for their ivory as a replacement. Latest data confirms that in the decade to 2016, more than 6,000 hippo teeth, 2,048 hippo tusks and a further 1,183 hippo ‘trophies’ were exported to EU Member States alongside thousands of other ‘parts and products’. International trade records show that from 2004-2014 around 60,000 kg of hippo ivory were imported into Hong Kong.
Anthrax is a life-threatening infectious disease caused by Bacillus anthracis that normally affects animals, especially ruminants such as goats, cattle, sheep, and horses. Anthrax can be transmitted to humans by contact with infected animals or their products.