US Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote says the move by the Zambian government to start hippo culling without any published scientific analysis to justify the decision, may make it difficult, if not impossible, for him to attract investment that can help the country’s conservation sector.
Cabinet has allowed a concession for hippo culling in the Luangwa River on grounds that the animals were dying from anthrax due to overpopulation, and the government was not benefiting anything from it.
According to government sources, the State is worried that the blocking the agreement for culling that was signed before the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) was dissolved, would attract litigation from the concessionaire who would demand a lot of money as and still go ahead to cull after winning the case.
But commenting on the announced hippo culling, Ambassador Foote said, without interfering with the sovereignty of Zambia, it was important for the government to follow the scientific steps to culling of animals so that it is done humanely.
“With all due respect to Zambia’s sovereignty, and I am not telling Zambia what to do. That said, reports today that Cabinet has approved a hippo cull on Luangwa River leaves me confounded…Animal culls that are done humanely and that are backed by real public scientific analyses are certainly potential conservation tools. I don’t disagree with the idea of a cull in principle, I believe that this cull that we are talking about was originally envisioned in 2015 by ZAWA…I have heard different reasoning, including anthrax and environmental degradation, carrying capacity of the valley, and now I’m hearing that it damages crops. I have heard all kinds of different reasons all of which could be viable reasons, but I am not sure which is the real reason,” Ambassador Foote said in an interview with News Diggers! yesterday.
“The US government and I would welcome, from the government of Zambia, information that would help us to better understand and also the transparent publishing of the scientific analysis and the justifications behind carrying out this cull. Now I worry, and you probably know that I have put a ton of personal passion and energy in trying to put Zambia on the world map as a conservation leader. And I worry that should a cull proceed without such public scientific information, it will severely hamper the US Embassy and my efforts to expand the American tourism base to Zambia, in which we are the country with the most tourists that come to Zambia each year. I’m also highly concerned that it will make it difficult, if not impossible, for me to attract investment that will be critical to developing the conservation sector. That is what the US government and I Daniel Foote feel about this, we are just confounded and we just welcome clarification, show us the science.”
Asked if the US was concerned about the culling of any other wildlife of it was only interested in one species, Ambassador Foote who is a passionate conservationist, said his government was mostly interested in scientific analysis before any such action was taken.
“In this case, we are talking about the hippo culling on Luangwa valley, but I think anytime that we are talking about culling animals, we need to produce and publish the analysis and science behind that as to how that will lead to better sustainability of the species and better environmental balance before proceeding. As I said before, culling can be a viable conservation too, but there is a science behind it. I think it’s important to go through the scientific steps and to publish the results before carrying out culls,” said Ambassador Foote.