The Zambian government’s decision to permit the cull of more than 1,000 hippos over the next five years is starting to have a negative effect on the country’s reputation as a premier wildlife tourism destination, Born Free can reveal.
Tourism companies operating in Zambia have been notified of client cancellations as a direct result of the news last month that the Zambian government had given the go-ahead for trophy hunters to kill hippos along the Luangwa Valley.
One tour operator said the cull was “absolutely terrible PR for Zambia and worse news for the hippos”.
Describing the situation as “really bad,” the operator added: “We have had cancellations, especially since it is being advertised for trophy hunters who wish to pay £10,000 for a five-day killing safari.”
Another tour operator said: “We have had a repeat guest write to us to say they have decided not to travel to Zambia this season as they ‘don’t want to support DNPW (Zambia’s Department of National Parks & Wildlife) when their priorities lie with the hippo culling programme’. I doubt he is the only one who has these sentiments, but for us this is the first concrete example of a negative impact on tourism as a result of the proposed cull.”
Will Travers OBE, Born Free’s President and Co-Founder, said: “Born Free is once more calling on His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu to announce a permanent halt to the cull. The Zambian authorities have failed to provide any scientific evidence showing an overpopulation of hippos in the Luangwa River, or to make public any data that might justify their decision. Born Free has also highlighted scientific research published in 2013 which concluded that previous culls were ineffective in controlling the Luangwa hippo population.