Zambia to kill 2,000 hippos in next five years to control their population

Zambia has revived a plan to slaughter up to 2,000 hippos over the next five years to control their population, the country’s tourism ministry said on Monday.

The plan to cull the hippos was suspended two years ago after animal rights activists protested the move, saying it amounted to brutality.

Tourism Minister Charles Banda said the water levels in the Luangwa river, where most of the animals are located, could not support the huge hippo population, while relocating them elsewhere could be too costly.

Banda said in his briefing on Monday that the government had therefore decided to go ahead with the plan to control the hippo population in eastern Zambia.

“The South Luangwa National Park has a population of more than 13,000 hippos but the area is only ideal for 5,000 hippos,” Banda said, adding that the ecosystem would be threatened.

“Moving the hippos to other water bodies would be very expensive. At the moment the only option we have is to do the culling.”

Born Free Foundation, a British wildlife charity, led the campaign against the culling of the hippos in 2016, equating it to trophy hunting.

On Monday, Born Free said on its website Zambia had failed to provide robust, scientific evidence demonstrating that there is an overpopulation of hippos in the Luangwa river.

“Scientific evidence suggests that culling hippos stimulates breeding and ends up increasing the population, potentially establishing a vicious cycle of death and destruction,” it said.

Born Free had said in 2016 the scientific rationale for killing up to 2,000 hippos when their population in the entire southern Africa stood at 80,000 hippos was questionable.