Protecting Pygmy Hippos
ZSL's EDGE of Existence Programme has prioritised pygmy hippos since 2007, and since then have worked to conserve them in Sapo National Park, Liberia and in Sierra Leone. We carry out research to understand pygmy hippo ecology, distribution and behaviour and work with local villages to protect them. We also led the production of the IUCN Pygmy Hippo Conservation Strategy in 2010.
Working in Sapo National Park, Liberia
ZSL has pioneered in situ conservation of pygmy hippos in Liberia since 2008, in collaboration with Fauna and Flora International (FFI) and Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority (FDA).
This work has taken place in Sapo National Park, where we are using camera traps to survey and monitor pygmy hippos. We captured the first photos of this incredible species in Liberia.
ZSL are now carrying out more in-depth surveys using a variety of methods to determine the pygmy hippo population in the park and how it is changing over time.
Working in Sierra Leone's Loma Mountains
ZSL is also working with a team from Njala University to carry out a national distribution assessment of pygmy hippos in Sierra Leone and establish a conservation initiatives with communities.
The team are interviewing farmers and hunters to determine if pygmy hippos are present around their villages. We have set up camera traps in areas where villagers claim pygmy hippos are found and searching for other signs such as; footprints, dung, grazing areas and trails.
Our work has revealed a significant population of pygmy hippos around Loma Mountain, and we have begun to work with local communities on a community conservation project to protect them.
Working for a Pygmy Hippo Conservation Strategy
In November 2010, ZSL held the first‘International Pygmy Hippo Conservation Strategy Planning Workshop’ in Liberia.
Attendees included range-state government staff ( from Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone), conservation NGO staff, species conservation specialists, representatives from academic institutions and other key stakeholders.This was an opportunity to form collaborative partnerships and pool all the knowledge about pygmy hippos.
The workshp resulted in a clearer picture of what is happening to this species and what needs to be done. A Species Conservation Strategy (SCS) was developed, as well as an updated distribution map, showing the hippos's historical and current range.
Plans for the Future
We want to develop our conservation work for the pygmy hippo by:
- Creating a website and database for the sharing of the latests data and materials.
- Carrying out more distribution surveys to get a detailed picture of where these animals still exist.
- Developing national action plans for pygmy hippo conservation in each of the range states.
- Continuing to build the conservation capacity of our partner organisations and coordination of conservation work.
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