Animal rights activists are protesting a controversial hippo culling that is set to begin this May. According to them, there is no proof of hippo overpopulation, and even if there is, the culling might just make things worse.
Controversial Hippo Culling
In a statement, the Zambia Department of National Parks & Wildlife announced that a hippo culling exercise is set to commence in May, at the beginning of the hunting season. The said culling was previously scheduled in 2016 but was shelved because of protests by activists and animal rights groups.
It was in a Jan. 31 report that the department stated that the hippo population in Luangwa River, where the culling is set, declined by 800 compared to previous count but that the population is still above the river’s capacity. According to the activists, the department was unable to provide scientific data about a supposed hippo overpopulation and that the water levels are too low to sustain them.
Furthermore, the activists say that the department also has no proof that previous cullings worked to reduce hippo population. In fact, they even cited scientific evidence suggesting that culling hippos actually stimulates breeding and increases the population even more.
So far, the Zambian government has no response to these statements.
Hippos are actually considered vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. All around the world, there is estimated to be about 115,000 and 130,000 hippos, which is why they should be protected in the countries where they exist. These include Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Burundi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone, among others. They are extinct in Egypt, Algeria, Eritrea, Liberia, and Mauritania.
In the countries where hippos exist, some of the threats to the species include droughts, ecosystem modifications, housing and urban areas, war, civil unrest, and military exercises. Poachers are also major threats because hippos are being hunted for their canine to be sold as an alternative to elephant tusks.