Animal rights activists are outraged after the Zambian government decided to allow trophy hunters to kill hippos.
The hippo ‘cull’ was first proposed in 2016, when the government planned to kill 400 of the animals a year due to the risk of an anthrax breakout.
Officials reportedly suspended the idea after receiving backlash from charity Born Free, but now the organisation have said the government actually went ahead with the cull under the guise of a ‘wildlife management tool’.
Their website explains:
Born Free has received news that the Zambian authorities have secretly overturned their 2016 decision and are once again promoting the cull to trophy hunters.
Zambia’s Department of National Parks & Wildlife (DNPW) claims that the cull is a ‘wildlife management tool’ to prevent anthrax outbreaks due to high populations of hippo, compounded by unusually low rainfall.
Born Free go on to explain how the government have failed to provide any solid evidence which supports the necessity of the cull.
DNPW has failed to provide credible, scientific evidence to show that such an indiscriminate hippo cull of healthy animals would prevent a future outbreak of anthrax.
Born Free is opposed to the killing of any animal for sport or pleasure. We contend that there is no evidence that supports the need to cull, as expressed by the authorities.
We also firmly believe that hippos are worth more alive, as part of the Luangwa Valley ecosystem and a spectacular part in Zambia’s incredible wildlife tourism sector, than dead.
The killing of the hippos has been promoted by the government to trophy hunting companies, who have offered ‘management hunts’ to customers in an effort to get people to take part in the cull.
According to Mail Online, a hunting firm based in South Africa offered a six-night expedition in Zambia, advertising the chance to kill ‘five hippos per hunter’, for just £10,500.
Born Free explain that according to scientific evidence, culling hippos actually stimulates breeding, resulting in a population increase. This could lead to a vicious cycle of killing for population control.
Anger regarding the cull has been evident on social media, where one person wrote:
In weeks the Hippo cull in Zambia will begin. 1250 Hippos will be slaughtered. First it was to stop Anthrax. Then, because of low rainfall. Now, it’s because of over population.
All are BS. The reason is greed. #TrophyHunting brings in millions in fees. RT Ban TrophyHunting. [sic]
In weeks the Hippo cull in Zambia will begin. 1250 Hippos will be slaughtered. First it was to stop Anthrax. Then, because of low rainfall. Now, it's because of over population. All are BS. The reason is greed. #TrophyHunting brings in millions in fees. RT Ban TrophyHunting pic.twitter.com/ZrQORry6KA
— Daniel Schneider (@BiologistDan) February 13, 2019
Speaking to The Sun, Dr Mark Jones, Associate Director at Born Free, spoke about the apparent ulterior motive of the officials:
These hunts are being sold by a South African hunting outfit called Siluwe Hunting – they’re talking about hunters killing two hippos for over £4,350.
So our belief is that this is very far from an animal management programme and very much to do with lining the pockets of trophy outfitters and very presumably of some of Zambia’s officials.
This is a thinly veiled opportunity for a few people to make a bit of money.
Hopefully officials will decide to put a stop to the cull.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.