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Pygmy hippo

Latin name: Choeropsis liberiensis

Areas: | Liberia |

IUCN Red List conservation status

About: Pygmy hippo

Liberia’s Sapo National Park is one of the pygmy hippo’s last refuges. That’s why FFI is working hard to protect the park by supporting rangers to patrol and monitor the forest.

Michael Abedi-Lartey

FFI Liberia Chief Technical Advisor

An image relating to Pygmy hippo

The pygmy hippopotamus is one of the most elusive creatures in the world. It’s solitary, nocturnal and wallows in the swamps of the dense forests of West Africa. Yet the species deserves worldwide conservation attention as its forest home is being rapidly destroyed.

The plight of the pygmy hippo is of international concern. Endangered and in decline, this elusive species is the last surviving member of its genus and is in urgent need of increased conservation attention.

FFI has been working to protect the hippo’s home in Liberia since 1997.

Pygmy hippo facts

  • Survives in forest fragments in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire
  • Grows to roughly 80cm in height and has dark, tough, hairless skin
  • Eats leaves, roots and fruit
  • The main threats to the species are habitat loss, hunting, human settlement and political instability
  • The relatively diminutive pygmy hippo grows to around a metre in height and is roughly a tenth of the weight of its larger cousin, the common hippo
  • Solitary and nocturnal in character, the species is semi-aquatic, so its ears and nostrils can create a water-tight seal

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Did you know?

Whenever a pygmy hippo sees a fire in the night in the forest, it runs over to stamp it out. This can be problematic for the forest rangers if they need to cook their food in the evening when they arrive late in the camp from patrol!

Wildlife corridors

Pygmy hippos only live in the Upper Guinean forest ecosystem but just 10% of this habitat is left in various fragments. Tai National Park in Cote d’Ivoire and Sapo National Park in Liberia hold the two largest areas.

FFI and our partners believe the best way to save the pygmy hippo and other species that rely on the forest is to secure a path of habitat between the two parks.

Corridors are vital for many species around the world which are confined to ever smaller habitat fragments. They facilitate mixing between isolated populations and allow migration in the face of climate change.

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