The Hippo Slaughter Continues - K150,000 Per Animal

A South African trophy hunting company is charging around K150, 000 to kill Hippos in the Luangwa Valley. Umlilo Safaris, a South African trophy hunting company has begun offering customers a five-day “hippo management hunt” in the Luangwa Valley for $15,500 each. 

On their Facebook page, the company states that hunters can shoot five hippos per trip and keep the animals’ tusks. The company also confirmed that it does allow its customers to export the tusks.

Trophy Hunters are now allowed to kill more than a thousand hippos over the next five years in Zambia.  The cull, in the Luangwa River region, is a bid to control numbers and stop the spread of anthrax, the country’s government insists, however many believe this is an excuse to make money off of the animals. 

Government has confirmed that it plans to allow 250 hippos a year to be killed, with one Safari Company already offering tourists the chance to kill up to five of the animals each.

The Department of National Parks has argued the cull will help prevent anthrax outbreaks in an area overpopulated with hippos. In a statement, Zambia’s Ministry of Tourism said the culling was to maintain a “suitable habitat for aquatic species and wildlife in general”, noting that similar culls had taken place before.

“The hippos are causing considerable damage to the riverbanks and continue to threaten the sustainability of the river system,” the statement read.

Hippos are susceptible to the infection, and can pass it to humans who eat infected meat.

Zambia initially suspended a planned cull in 2016 following pressure from activists, but Born Free has accused the government of “secretly” overturning the decision and “promoting the cull to trophy hunters”. 

Will Travers, Chief Executive of the charity Born Free said government has failed to provide enough evidence showing an overpopulation of hippos in the Luangwa River, or to make public any data that justifies the cull.

“They are, apparently, using the same flawed rationale 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,” he said.

“They also appear not to have informed key stakeholders in the Luangwa Valley… The negative consequences for thousands of hippo and Zambia’s reputation as a wildlife tourism destination cannot be underestimated.”

Richard Kock, professor of wildlife health at the Royal Veterinary College, told The Independent the government needed to provide data to justify the cull. 

“There’s no doubt that hippos can build up numbers until there really are probably too many for the ecosystem,” he said. “And so I think the anthrax may well be a factor in controlling their populations, and it may benefit the environment because they will consume large quantities of herbage, and obviously that will affect other species. 

“I’m also very sensitive to the fact people use these things as excuses for nefarious behaviour. So I would say you need good data and you need good evidence and it should be the scientific authorities who should back up any sort of criteria on culling. And it should be justified.”

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