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Pygmy Hippo Monitoring in Sapo National Park

  • Locations: Sapo National Park, Liberia
  • Active dates: 2005 - 2012


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



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.


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

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