As many as 2000 hippos may be killed over five years in Zambia. The government has resurrected a culling plan it suspended in mid-June.
Animal welfare groups say there is no solid scientific case for the cull, which may be carried out by paying trophy hunters.
The government has put forward various reasons for the cull in the South Luangwa National Park. These includepreventing anthrax, which hippos can spread, claims of overpopulation and of water levels too low to support bothhippos and the other wildlife.
Yet there’s no current anthrax outbreak and water levels are the highest they have been in five years, says Will Travers, president of wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation. “They are on thin ground scientifically.”
“There’s a relentless effort to press ahead,” says Travers. “But at the moment, I can’t see how they can justify what’s going on.” He has now written to Zambian president Edgar Lungu asking for the cull to be abandoned, and for open publication of the rationale for killing the animals.
Officials have not replied to New Scientist’s request for comment.