Hi, my name is Ben, and I’m part of the team responsible for developing EDGE, and will be coordinating the pygmy hippo project for the EDGE of Existence programme. I’ve been working in conservation science for the past 5 years, and have been at ZSL since May 2002. My most recent visit to West Africa was to Equatorial Guinea as part of the ZSL Bushmeat and Forests Programme. Running the pygmy hippo project will enable me to get out to West Africa again, though this time to Liberia, something I’m really looking forward to.
Last week we had a really productive meeting with Stephen van der Mark from Flora and Fauna International (FFI) about the conservation efforts they have ongoing in Liberia (see Stephen’s blog for some back ground to Liberia and the conservation problems that the pygmy hippos face). Their presence in country gives us a real foot in the door and hopefully will mean that we can move quickly to get our project underway. It also provides us with a great opportunity to get added value from your donations by ensuring we work closely together, and do not duplicate our efforts.
We have scoped out an initial project to survey for pygmy hippos in Sapo National Park and work along side FFI’s partners in Liberia, Forest Partners International and the Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia. We’re still in the planning stage, but it is likely we will use camera traps to evaluate the presence of pygmy hippos in Sapo. The survey will provide us with much needed information on what sort of numbers of pygmy hippos exist within the protected area, but will also enable us to see what other kinds of animals are in and around the park. The aim is to help set a baseline, against which future surveys can be compared. Sadly even basic information on the pygmy hippo is still missing.