More than 1,250 hippopotami living in the valley are about to meet their bloody and gruesome end at the hands of South African game hunters who are eagerly awaiting the end of the Zambian rainy season in April to begin the killing-spree.
The controversial hunt has been approved again by Zambia's Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW), according to Conservation Action Trust.
The ‘cull’, which has been suspended a number of times since 2015 because of international conservation pressure, coupled with the fact that also Zambia's own scientific research has advised against it, noting that previous culls have only served to increase the population growth rate, is set to go ahead regardless of the global backlash.
Financial gain remains the biggest drawcard behind the mass hippo killing.
"Hippo lives are on the line in order to line the pockets of a few hunting operators and government officials," says Born Free president, Will Travers.
In 2015, the now-defunct Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) signed a culling contract with a South African hunting outfitter, Mabwe Adventures Limited. The contract is shrouded in secrecy and did not go through a public tendering process.
The adventure firm is currently offering Luangwa hippo packages at R200 000 for 5 hippos per hunter. The cull could generate upward of R45 million for hunters and the Zambian government.
Zambian Minister of Tourism and Arts Charles Banda, however, confirmed in 2018 that the contract was still valid.
Zambia Government’s relentless push for the hunt to take place is reportedly an attempted cover-up for an alleged contract-gone-wrong.
However, the slaughter could have far-reaching consequences for Zambia as a developing country.
Born Free Foundation have already engaged with the UK Government asking them to use their influence to seek a commitment from Zambia to call off cull - a move likely to be welcomed by the 158 MPs who signed the Early Day Motion 1829, calling on the UK government to end the import of hunting trophies.
Last year, UK taxpayers sent £45 million (R827 million) to Zambia to assist with poverty relief, education and school meals.
Chiefs and the local community where the cull is due to take place, as well as local safari operators, are also opposed to the move fearing a tourism backlash against the impending mass-slaughter.
"The justifications for this cull - which is being openly marketed to paying trophy hunters - are like a sea of shifting sand," says Born Free president, Will Travers.
"Originally, it was to prevent an outbreak of anthrax. Then it was because the water levels in the Luangwa River were precariously low. Now it is because there is a perceived hippo over-population. None of these 'justifications' stands up to scrutiny."
Hippos are currently listed as "Vulnerable" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and populations are far from stable with only approximately 130 000 left in the wild.
Over 7,300 kgs of hippo tusks and teeth were internationally traded in 2018 alone - a 64-fold increase since 2007.
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