Ministry of Tourism and Arts Permanent Secretary Rev Howard Sikwela says the planned hippo culling exercise on the Luangwa Valley of Eastern Province slated for May this year, will proceed because his Ministry has no powers at this stage to overrule that decision.

And US Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote says government’s move to start hippo culling will make it impossible to attract American visits as most of the tourists will opt to go to other countries.

According to a statement issued by Ministry of Tourism and Arts Public Relations Officer, Sakabilo Kalembwe, Thursday, Rev Sikwela was speaking during a meeting held at his office with Ambassador Foote.

Rev Sikwela said his Ministry had no powers at this stage to overrule the decision on the planned hippo culling due to contractual obligations.

“My institution concerted to the cull because of the challenges of hippo carrying capacity of the Luangwa River Ecosystem and contractual obligations that were already undertaken,” he said.

And Rev Sikwela added that government appreciated the support of the US Embassy to the growth of the tourism sector especially in the South Luangwa National Park where an estimated number of 40,000 American tourist visits contributed around US$37 million, each year.

However, Ambassador Foote said he wished there could be an alternative solution to the cull.

He said America remained number one tourist source market to the South Luangwa, adding that it would be sad that the tourists would opt to go to other countries because of the negative perception created by the undertaking.

The ambassador however added that he was not there to tell Zambians what to do about their wildlife resources.