Oct 25

Pygmy hippopotamus photo

Good things come in small packages - the pygmy hippopotamus

Last night the Natural History Museum in London hosted the launch of the Pygmy Hippo Foundation in a spectacularly glamorous fashion – a charity champagne reception, dinner and auction. Richard Edwards, Chief Executive, Wildscreen, was there to dine in style in the great hall under the watchful eye of ‘Dippy’ the museum’s famous replica Diplodocus skeleton. During the launch evening guest speakers gave talks to raise awareness of the plight of the Endangered pygmy hippopotamus and its rainforest and swamp habitats in western Africa. ARKive supplied footage of this elusive species on behalf of Marco Polo Productions, helping to bring the talks to life.

Pygmy hippopotamus and calf

Pygmy hippopotamus and calf

The Foundation’s Work

The Pygmy Hippo Foundation aims to preserve and protect the remaining wild pygmy hippopotami (Choeropsis liberiensis) population which is thought to be as low as 2000 individuals. One of the main projects of the foundation is the development of Sapo National Park in south east Liberia, where the majority of the wild population of pygmy hippopotami live. The foundation also engages with the local community through education programmes and conservation initiatives as well as petitioning the Liberian government on the importance of conservation.

Deforestation in west Africa

Deforestation in west Africa

(Not So) Mini Hippos

The pygmy hippopotamus is reclusive and is mainly active at night when it ventures out of the water to feed in the forest. Though not dissimilar in appearance to the common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) it comes as no shock that the pygmy hippopotamus is significantly smaller and unfortunately is at an even higher risk of extinction.  Wide-scale deforestation of the pygmy hippopotami’s forest habitat poses a major threat for this species. The pygmy hippopotamus depends on the rainforest for its diet of leaves, roots and grasses as well as swamps and rivers for a water source.

There's nothing mini about those teeth!

A Brighter Future …

It’s not all doom and gloom though: fortunately the pygmy hippopotamus breeds well in captivity and the captive population has increased greatly in recent years. Couple that with the fact that  the Pygmy Hippo Foundation are taking an active role in preserving the wild population by sponsoring direct research and ranger training for Sapo National Park, the pygmy hippo has a good chance at pulling through.

Looks like the pygmy hippopotamus will just about keep its head above the water for now!

Find out more about the pygmy hippopotamus and its conservation on the Pygmy Hippo Foundation website.

George Bradford, ARKive Researcher