EDGE Community

Project information

[Project name/title]
Pygmy Hippo Monitoring in Sapo National Park

[Project description/overview]

To ensure the survival of the pygmy hippopotamus throughout its range.

Sapo National Park, Liberia

Project type:

Relevant EDGE species:
Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis)

Project members:
Chris Ransom

Relevant species
28. Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis) EN

This species secretes oils known as "blood-sweat" which keep its skin waterproof.

[Relevance description]
Species background

Occurs in West Africa (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast and possibly Nigeria). The species is less social than the common hippopotamus and is primarily nocturnal, and the pygmy hippo’s range does not overlap with its common cousin. Hippo skin contains pores that secrete pink “blood-sweat”, a thick substance allowing them to remain in water or dry atmospheres for long periods. Pygmy hippos feature in folktales: one says that at night they carry diamonds in their mouths, and if a hunter catches one he gets the jewel. It is estimated that around 2,000-3,000 pygmy hippos survive, and the Nigerian subspecies may already be extinct.


To ensure the survival of the pygmy hippopotamus throughout its range.

  • Establish a camera trapping monitoring programme in the park
  • Train park staff to carry out monitoring activities
  • Conduct more in-depth surveys to determine pygmy hippo population and distribution in the park and provide data to inform management
  • Develop and implement a practical training course for students
  • Develop a Centre of Excellence for Ecological Research and Conservation Learning (CEERCL) to provide training for Liberian students and natural resource management professionals in field research methods and conservation issues
  • March 2008 - First confirmed camera trap photos (LINK) of pygmy hippo in Sapo National Park, confirming its continued presence in Liberia. .
  • In November 2010, ZSL hosted the first ‘International Pygmy Hippo Conservation Strategy Planning Workshop’. Held in Liberia, .attendees included 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
  • An IUCN Species Conservation Strategy (SCS) and an updated distribution map for the pygmy hippo were produced
  • First video footage of the pygmy hippo in November 2011, Liberia
Future actions

1) Continue to implement actions from Pygmy Hippo Conservation Strategy: additional research to guide management decisions, maintain conservation activities in priority sites and raise awareness of the pygmy hippo nationally and internationally

2) Appoint a ‘Pygmy Hippo Co-ordinator’ to ensure the implementation of strategic action plans to raise funds

Project members
Chris Ransom : Project Leader

West and North Africa Programme Manager

[Member role description]
[Title:] Image | Pygmy hippo | © ZSL
[Image caption]
Associated Blog Posts
19th Dec 11
Camera traps are revolutionising our ability to track the changing fate of wildlife. Often used in remote locations looking for elusive species, thi...  Read

15th Oct 11
Trying to get cameras in the wild to capture images of the elusive pygmy hippo (Choeropsis liberiensis) is no easy task, but the project in Sapo National Par...  Read

8th Feb 11
In November 2010 a workshop was held in Liberia, West Africa to develop a conservation strategy for the pygmy hippo, EDGE mammal number 29. The pygmy hippo i...  Read

25th Feb 10
The pygmy hippopotamus is today featured as the IUCN Red List ‘Species of the Day’, which is running throughout 2010 to mark the International Year of Bi...  Read

29th Jun 09
EDGE Fellow John Konie recently wrote to give us the news that the President of Liberia had made a visit to Sapo National Park, where Konie is using camera t...  Read

11th Dec 08
Marwell Zoological Park is celebrating the birth of a pygmy hippopotamus, EDGE Mammal species number 21. Born three weeks ago, the hippo is part of a cons...  Read

3rd Jul 08
Our EDGE Fellow John Konie monitors the pygmy hippopotamus and other threatened mammal species in Liberia. He has sent us the following information about Sap...  Read

11th Apr 08
Sapo National park comprises 1800 km2 of moist tropical lowland rainforest, with a varied mosaic of riparian, seasonally inundated, and dryland forest. Ther...  Read

10th Mar 08
Team 1 - forest team While the cameras must stay in the field for 35 days to allow sufficient time for images to be captured, in order to complete the train...  Read

4th Mar 08
On the 20th January, Ben Collen, Janna Rist and Olivia Daniel set off to Liberia to set up a monitoring programme in Sapo National Park, and to try and captu...  Read

20th Jan 08
Today we travel out to Sapo National Park to begin our pygmy hippo monitoring programme.  All the camera traps arrived last week thanks to Rich (at www.trai...  Read

12th Oct 07
Robert Howard, part of the Fauna and Flora International (FFI) team carrying out the biomonitoring programme in Sapo National Park sent us this blog:  ...  Read

23rd Aug 07
Hi I’m John Konie, I currently work as a Biologist for the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), in Liberia. Recently I have been given a great opportunity...  Read