Zambia Tourism Minister clarifies hippo culling
Minister of Tourism and Arts Honorable Charles Banda has refuted allegations that Zambia has overturned the 2016 decision to suspend the brutal culling of 2,000 hippos in the world famous Luangwa Valley.
Hon. Banda said the culling quota has been agreed at not more than 250 hippos per year and not 2,000 as reported in some sections of the media.
He said out of the 13,000 total populations of the species, what will be culled is just the excess of this number.
The Minister said the reason for culling of hippos is to control the hippo population on the Luangwa River so as to maintain a suitable habitat for other aquatic species and wildlife in general.
He said the press release that was generated by Born Free Foundation and is currently circulating on social media as well as being published by various media houses is not the true picture.
The Minister said the fact of the matter is that in 2015, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, then Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) signed a five-year contract with Mabwe Adventures Limited to cull hippos along the Luangwa River.
He said the Department of National Parks and Wildlife is shocked that culling is being raised as a very serious matter now and that the matter is being politicized to the extent where the current Zambian Government is being blamed for allowing this activity.
Hon Banda said it should however be noted that the contract is not the first one to have been signed with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife as prior to this agreement, the defunct ZAWA had signed a similar contract with L and L Safaris Limited which ran for 5 years from 2005 to 2010.
Further, in 2011 the Department of National Parks and Wildlife renewed a contract for Hippo culling with L and L Safaris Limited which was later terminated because of the failure by the company to meet its obligations in the agreement.
He expressed shock that when L and L Safaris was executing a hippo culling contract the Born Free Foundation never condemned this management activity but have even chosen to draw the Central Government into this purely departmental management matter this time for reasons best known to themselves.
The Minister said following the increase in hippo population on the river, the hippos are causing considerable damage to the riverbanks and continue to threaten the sustainability of the river system.
Hon. Banda said this is largely because hippos do not have a natural predator to put the population in check and have thus multiplied with minimum hindrance.
He said Department of National Parks and Wildlife shall be available on Radio and Television in the coming weeks to give more details and respond to all the concerns on hippo culling.
The Minister has advised the general public and all concerned parties to bring out all the concerns and issues pertaining to hippo culling so that such may be attended to by the concerned department under the Ministry of Tourism and Arts.
Sakabilo Kalembwe - Zacks
Public Relations Officer
Ministry of Tourism and Arts
3rd Floor Kwacha House
P.O Box 30575,
Mobile: 0955 474115, 0979 474114