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Rare pygmy hippo born

By on December 11, 2008 in EDGE Updates, Uncategorized

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 conservation breeding programme to help save the species from extinction; with less than 3000 in the wild, Marwell’s latest arrival is a vital addition to this rare and threatened species.

Pygmy hippopotamus are related to their larger cousin the common hippo but are, as the name suggests, much smaller. Marwell’s baby pygmy hippo now weighs around 10 kilos (22 pounds) and has already formed a strong bond with her mum Wendy, spending many hours swimming together in their pool. To watch a video of the new arrival click here.

The pygmy hippo’s natural habitat in west Africa has been increasingly logged and farmed over the last 100 years, with large areas of their natural habitat being lost in last 30 years. Their numbers have steadily declined and the species is now listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. If their natural habitat continues to decline their future is uncertain: the population is likely to continue to decline by 20% over the course of the next 20 years.

EDGE Fellow John Konie is currently monitoring pygmy hippos in Sapo National Park, Liberia’s only national park and its largest protected area of rainforest. Earlier this year Konie and a team from ZSL managed to get the first ever images of a Liberian pygmy hippo using camera traps, confirming the presence of the rare species in the park despite civil wars, poaching and logging threatening its survival. Konie’s monitoring surveys continue, and in time will show whether the Sapo hippo population is stable.

Keepers at Marwell invited people to select a name for the baby hippo, and from the shortlist the name Lola was the people’s choice from the web vote, beating the other three options – Loko, Kadina and Zimmi.

To support the conservation work of EDGE Fellows such as Konie, you can become an EDGE Champion, or donate here.