The Pygmy Hippopotamus according to MammalMAP
The Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis) inhabits the cool forests and swamps of Western Africa, principally Liberia, and is an elusive creature owing to its small stature and nocturnal habits. This EDGE (Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered) species stands a mere 75-100 cm tall at the shoulder and is about one fifth the weight of its larger cousin, the common hippopotamus. There are other notable differences between these two species such as the more solitary nature of the pygmy hippo compared to the common hippo as well as spending less time in water bodies (despite having webbed toes), preferring to cool off in the surrounding mud and burrows of other animals. Local legends tell of the Pygmy hippo sweating blood, but scientists believe that the red substance they secrete acts as an antibiotic and sunscreen.
This herbivorous animal can reach top speeds of 30 km/h and has a relatively long life-span of up to 40 years in the wild. However, their numbers in the wild are dwindling, predominantly as a result of habitat loss and illegal poaching, but also due to the fact that they only reach sexual maturity at 4-5 years of age and giving birth to a single calf after 7 months of gestation.
The Pygmy hippo was listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. A formal recent assessment of the population revealed that an estimated 2000-3000 individuals remain in the wild. In 2012, a National Action Plan for the Conservation of the Pygmy Hippopotamus in Liberia was produce with the primary goal “To assess the current status of the Pygmy hippo across its range and ensure effective protection of, and connectivity between, known populations.”
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- Pigs, Peccaries, and Hippos: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Edited by William L. R. Oliver, IUCN/SSC Pigs and Peccaries Specialist Group, IUCN/SSC Hippo Specialist Group.
- G. B. Corbet (1969) The taxonomic status of the Pygmy hippopotamus, Choeropsis liberiensis, from the Niger Delta, Journal of Zoology, 158, 387-394.
- FFI and FDA (2013) National Action Plan for the Conservation of the Pygmy Hippopotamus in Liberia. Fauna & Flora International, Cambridge, UK and Forestry Development Authority, Monrovia, Liberia.
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