A cull to eliminate as many as 2,000 hippo has been suspended after the Born Free Foundation and other conservation NGOs – locally, regionally, and internationally – appealed to the Zambian government to halt the kill, with some calling it unsustainable and ill researched.
A Lusaka-based source sent in the media release issued by the Zambian Ministry of Tourism and Arts, following the global uproar over the plans:
The Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) wishes to announce the suspension of [the] hippo culling exercise in the Luangwa Valley.
This … has been necessitated by events that have come with the culling activity that started in May.
In the meantime, the department will evaluate the matter and provide a way forward.
Culling is a wildlife management measure usually taken in situations where the population of a particular species exceeds the carrying capacity of the habitat, thereby the habitat cannot support the given species.
Recently, research revealed that the water levels in the Luangwa River system have been low and insufficient to support the hippo population, especially in the dry season.
DNPW has assessed the situation and estimated that 2,000 hippos need to be culled in a space of 5 years.
Following the suspension of the culling operations, the department is making extensive consultations and will make further pronouncements on the matter as it deems fit according to its mandate.
The department is committed to the protection and sustainable utilization of wildlife resources for ecological and socio-economic benefits for the present and future as mandated by Wildlife Act Number 14 of 2015.
Sakabilo Kalembwe – Zacks
Public Relations Officer
Ministry of Tourism and Arts
Tourism sources as well as conservation groups have applauded the swift reaction and suspension of the cull and expressed their hope that Zambia’s wildlife experience will not be clouded by such negative publicity as generated by the plans to cull 2,000 of the river beasts.