Wildlife charity Born Free Foundation has welcomed the Zambian authorities’ decision to suspend a controversial hippopotamus cull.
The plan was to cull 400 hippopotamuses a year over the next five years in the Luangwa River Valley.
According to an official statement from the Zambian Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) the cull, which started last month, was being suspended to allow for further consultation with stakeholders. Born Free will continue to closely monitor events.
Born Free president and co-founder Will Travers OBE states: “Leaving aside the ethical dimension – whether it is morally acceptable to kill hundreds of healthy animals to prevent a possible future outbreak of a disease – other important questions remain to be answered. Is there an overpopulation of hippo and on what is this evaluation based? Is culling an effective anthrax control strategy and, again, where is the evidence?”
There has been widespread shock and outrage on social media since news of the cull was reported last week by Born Free. The news made headlines across the world and may have prompted the decision of the authorities to suspend the cull.
Though the cull was reportedly sanctioned by DNPW as a wildlife management tool to prevent the possible future spread of anthrax among wild animals (although the DNPW is now claiming low river levels as a justification), the killing was opened up to non-Zambian trophy hunters. A five-year hunting contract had been awarded to Mabwe Safaris, and was being marketed by a South African hunting company called De Marillac Safaris.
Travers adds: “I sincerely hope that, on reflection, the DNPW will decide to permanently abandon plans for a cull. Were they to recommence the killing, without doubt there would be members of the safari-going public who would decide to spend their money elsewhere to view Africa’s magnificent wildlife legacy.”