The government of Zambia is reportedly going forward with a plan to allow 1,250 hippos to be hunted and killed. Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) approved the plan this year, according to Conservation Action Trust.
The Zambian government has given numerous excuses for approving the hunt, but they also stand to make millions of dollars from the deal.
Many environmental organizations, including the Born Free Foundation and international wildlife organization, have pointed out that the decision could threaten hippo populations, which they insist are being threatened across the continent.
Dr. Mark Jones, Associate Director of Born Free Foundation, believes that government officials are chasing the money.
“We don’t believe there is any reason the hippos should be culled and trophy hunting is not in any way an appropriate way of managing animal populations. These hunts are being sold by a South African hunting outfit called Siluwe Hunting — they’re talking about hunters killing two hippos for over $5,590. So our belief is that this is very far from an animal management program and very much to do with lining the pockets of trophy outfitters and very presumably some of Zambia’s officials,” Jones said.
“[This is] a thinly veiled opportunity for a few people to make a bit of money,” he added.
Born Free Foundation President and Co-Founder, Will Travers, said that the government has made numerous excuses for the controversial policy.
“The justifications for this cull are like a sea of shifting sand. Originally, it was to prevent an outbreak of anthrax (which can be found in the carcasses of the dead hippos). Then it was because the water levels in the Luangwa River were precariously low. Now it is because there is a perceived hippo over-population.” Travers said.
“Hippo lives are on the line in order to line the pockets of a few hunting operators and government officials,” Travers added.
“They’ve dressed up a trophy hunting quota as some kind of wildlife management tool. They’ve claimed there’s overpopulation in Luangwa Valley which they claim has resulted from a lack of rainfall. Well there’s been no lack of rainfall — it’s been quite consistent in the last few years,” Jones said.
Over 7,300 kgs of hippo tusks and teeth were internationally traded in 2018 alone
It is estimated that there are only 130,000 wild hippos left on the entire planet.
Hippos are currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
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