Conservation of the pygmy hippo

October 6, 2014 admin Africa Wildlife FoundationAfrica's endangered animalsTunde Folawiyotunde folawiyo africatunde folawiyo executivetunde folawiyo oil

Tunde FolawiyoThere are fewer than 3,000 pygmy hippos left in Africa. Those that remain are mostly found in Liberia, as well as in certain parts of Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Guinea. At the moment, conservationists are unable to determine the exact number remaining in the wild, due to the fact that this species is naturally reclusive and nocturnal.

However, they have managed to establish that habitat loss is the most serious threat to this animal. As someone who is interested in wildlife conservation, Tunde Folawiyo may know that in Ivory Coast, for instance, where more than half of the country’s rainforests have been cut down over the last decade, the species has been left with almost nowhere to live.

Wei-Yeen Yap, an Australian ecologist who has been studying the pygmy hippo, says that in Ivory Coast the species has resorted to living on a tiny, narrow strip of land between the desert and the national park. In order to prevent the complete loss of the species in this country, he argues, the government would need to launch both a large-scale rehabilitation and reforestation programme.

While it has been established that this species is on the decline, conservationists and scientists are finding it challenging to reverse this trend, as very little is known about the pygmy hippo’s behaviour and ecology. Without this information, creating a management plan to protect it from extinction is almost impossible.

However, researchers are doing their best to overcome this obstacle. Several years ago, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) set up a project called Save Our Species (SOS). As a conservation enthusiast, Tunde Folawiyo might know that the scientists involved in SOS initially focused their efforts on studying the pygmy hippo population in Sierra Leone. The research revealed that the range of the species here spanned over 70,000 square kilometres, and also helped them to determine which areas would be best suited for use as conservation sites.

In addition to this, ZSL has been working in Liberia, surveying this species in Sapo National Park, and creating a conservation strategy that includes long-term actions and a realistic framework for protecting these animals. Yap has also been studying this species in Ivory Coast; using night vision cameras and GPS technology, he and his team of assistants have been observing and recording pygmy hippos in their natural habitat. It is hoped that this data will contribute to future conservation efforts carried out in this country.

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