Act Now To Save Hippopotamuses Facing Extinction

Hippo Populations Face Increased Pressure

Hippopotamuses, the third largest terrestrial mammal, continue to decline due to widespread poaching for meat and ivory from the hippo’s long ivory canine teeth. Meanwhile, human encroachment into hippo habitats have decimated their historic range, and the species have already gone regionally extinct in three African countries. Currently, hippos are confined mostly to protected areas, and over the past 10 years their populations have declined 7-20%. The two types of hippos, the common hippo and the pygmy hippo are listed as Vulnerable and Endangered, respectively.

  • Status

    Common Hippo: Vulnerable
    Pygmy Hippo: Endangered

  • Population

    Common Hippo: 125,000-148,000 estimate
    Pygmy Hippo: 2,000-3,000 estimate

  • Weight

    Common Hippo: 2,900 lb - 3,000 lb
    Pygmy Hippo: 400-600 lb

  • Length

    Common Hippo: 11-17 ft
    Pygmy Hippo: 2.46 - 3.28 ft

  • Habitats

    sub-Saharan grasslands with permanent fresh water access, African wetlands, and West African forests (pygmy hippos)

  • Poaching

    Poached for meat and ivory canine teeth, habitat decline, human-hippo conflict

Hippos Once Roamed All of Africa

The incredible hippo has been a part of the African ecosystem for millions of years, once ranging from the Nile river valley to the Cape. However, due to illegal and unregulated hunting, retaliatory killings and widespread habitat loss, the remaining 125,000-148,000 common hippos are now confined to protected areas. Of the 29 countries where common hippos are still found, populations are confirmed to be declining in half of those countries.

There are actually two types of hippo species in Africa, the large hippo, or common hippo are found throughout East Africa’s grasslands and wetlands, and the small, solitary pygmy hippo dwells in West Africa’s forests. Only 2,000-3,000 pygmy hippos likely remain in Africa.


The Loss of Hippos Could Be Catastrophic

Hippos face threats from human-wildlife conflict and habitat encroachment, with hundreds being shot each year to keep them out of crops and away from homes. They are often killed for their meat under the guise of protection, and both hippo fat and their ivory canine teeth are considered valuable. As bans on elephant ivory continue to gain support thanks to the tireless work of conservationists, buyers are looking for substitutes. Hippos have carveable canine teeth, and as a result, there has been an over 530% increase in hippo teeth export annually. Hippo populations have also been impacted in areas with ongoing civil unrest, and in places of relative stability, they find themselves entangled in snares. In the DRC, a historic hippo habitat, populations have declined by 95%.

These amphibious mammals require access to permanent water to keep their special hides moist. Common hippos live in groups of tens to hundreds, and the disappearance of a multi-ton grazer from the habitat will result in dramatic ecological impacts. Very little is known about the shy pygmy hippo, and while common hippos are listed as vulnerable and pygmy hippos endangered, both of their conservation statuses are based on a 2004 estimate recommendation. Based on trends, it is likely their populations continue to decline.

Hippos are an incredible, ancient creature and they must be protected.

States where we're fighting to protect Hippopotamuses

  • KITV: Governor Ige signs ivory sales ban into law

    June 30, 2016


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