The Zambia Community-Based Natural Resources Management Forum, (ZCBNRMF) and The National CRB Association are hereby jointly, on behalf of the vulnerable communities at large living in the Luangwa Valley were the planned hippo “Cull” is expected to take place, wish to urge the relevant committees to strongly and quickly intervene in halting the hunt until such a time we all stakeholders have clear inclusive reasons, evidence-based scientific data and confidence. Indeed , it is a shocking move that our pro-poor Zambian Government have apparently overturned a 2016 decision to suspend this proposed hippo ‘cull’ and South African hunters have allegedly been given the go-ahead to slaughter up to 2,000 hippos in the area. We therefore present to you this petition with the following understanding:
- Currently Hippos are on the ‘Red List’ of threatened species, and categorized as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), of which Zambia is party to.
- There is no information that has been provided to all stakeholders, including communities to show that river levels or water flow in the Luangwa River are abnormally low, and that there is no scientific evidence to show that a hippo cull would prevent an outbreak of anthrax.
- The government has failed to provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate any overpopulation of hippos in the Luangwa River, or to make public any data that justifies the cull. It is alleged that the hippo population in that conservation area has in fact dwindled by about 14-20% in the last 20 years.
- The negative consequences for thousands of hippo to be slaughtered and Zambia’s reputation as a wildlife tourism destination cannot be underestimated. In this regard, we strongly believe this will negatively affect the photo safari business and tourism as a whole to Zambia.
- It is to our knowledge that there has not been transparency in the awarding of the South African professional trophy hunting company in the name of Umlilo Safaris, a licence allowing for up to 2,000 hippos to be killed over a 5 year period. Unfortunately, local communities and hunting operators were not fairly considered in the tender process.
- There is need for all stakeholders, including the Government to appreciate the importance of hippos to the communities and the ecosystem. The hippopotamus is an animal very important to the health of Africa’s rivers and lakes. Their dung, or solid waste, helps Africa’s aquatic ecosystem. They also create habitat and shelter for smaller creatures. Hippos also play an important role in wetlands by fertilizing the waters in which they stay. By eating on land and pooping in the water for as much as 16hrs, they bring nutrients to rivers and lakes that wouldn’t otherwise be there, helping enrich wetland plant and animal life
Within this background, we as Civil Society partners would urge the Zambian Government to provide good data and enough reliable scientific evidence from relevant scientific authorities/agencies that should back up any sort of decision criteria on hippo culling in future. We hope the two committees can engage firmly with the government, so it has to be official taking into considerations the value, importance and pro-poor principles of wildlife conservation in Zambia and the region at large.