Some of the most amazing creatures in Africa are hippos, which are distinguished by their enormous size, strong teeth, and capacity to submerge themselves in water. It may surprise you to learn that, despite their extensive distribution, hippos are actually losing population. In light of this, are hippos in danger? Continue reading to find out the answer to this and the approximate number of them that remain in the globe.
Where Do Hippos Live?
Hippos come in two species: pygmy hippos and common hippos, which are commonly referred to as just hippos. Pygmy hippos are much smaller than common hippos, which can weigh anywhere from 3,000 to 9,900 pounds. Pygmy hippos, on the other hand, usually weigh between 400 and 600 pounds. Both species are distinguished by their barrel-shaped bodies and big heads with strong teeth, despite the stark differences in size.
Although pygmy hippos are found in the western part of the continent, where they mostly live in forests and marshes, both types of hippos are native to Africa. Most of sub-Saharan Africa is home to common hippos, who are found in and near lakes and rivers.
As mainly herbivores, hippos consume a wide range of grasses and plants. When they leave the water to feed at night, they are most active. But during the day, you can see them nearby on the shore or immersed in the sea. To shield their skin from the scorching sun, they spend the entire day in the water.
How Many Hippos Are There in the World?
Today, both hippos’ species are regarded as endangered. While pygmy hippos are officially listed as endangered, common hippos are classified as vulnerable.
There are about 115,000 and 135,000 hippos in the world right now. They may appear to be in a reasonably solid position, but in reality, the population is declining. On the other hand, there are far more common hippos than pygmy hippos in the world. See the graphic below for a brief explanation of the numbers.
What Threats Do Hippos Face?
Regrettably, there are multiple threats facing hippos, and these factors collectively lead to their population decline. A poor rate of reproduction, poaching, habitat loss, and human conflict are some of the threats. Let’s investigate them in greater depth.
Loss of habitat is one of the biggest risks to hippos. The places where hippos once inhabited are being taken over by growing farms and human populations, depriving them of their food source. Pygmy hippos, in particular, are impacted by deforestation, which destroys their habitats and forces them to relocate completely or into limited areas. The wetlands and streams that the hippos use run the risk of changing or being impacted by the growth of crops, cities, and roadways.
Poaching is another significant concern to hippos. Hippos are frequently hunted for their teeth in addition to their meat and other body parts. Hippos’ teeth are made of ivory as well, despite the fact that we more frequently associate the ivory trade with elephants and rhinos. Because hippos’ teeth may grow up to 1.5 feet long, poachers are always looking for them.
Conflict with people is one of the numerous problems that hippos have in the modern world. Communities are not regularly intruding on hippos’ habitat as human numbers rise. This raises the likelihood that hippos may move closer to villages or other settlements where they are usually shot and brings people and hippos considerably closer together. Hippos have a strong sense of territoriality and may become hostile toward people who approach them. Every year, about 500 individuals lose their lives to hippos.
Furthermore, hippos may occasionally stray onto farms to graze on the crops as human populations grow within their habitat. Because of this, hippos are frequently shot as payback for the harm they inflict.
Low Reproductive Rate
The low rate of reproduction in hippos poses a threat to their survival. Hippos only give birth once every two years, often to just one calf. Because they can’t reproduce quickly enough to offset the various risks they currently face, their slow rate of reproduction adds to the population decline.
Numerous conservation initiatives are underway to safeguard hippos and stop further population declines. In order to lessen the likelihood of hostilities with the local inhabitants, these initiatives involve cooperating with them to keep hippos out of farms and settlements. Hippopotamus prevention measures include ditch digging and fence construction, which keep the animals out of human areas.
More protected places for hippos, such as national parks and waterway protected zones, are being created as part of ongoing conservation efforts. Additionally, groups frequently collaborate with state and municipal authorities in an effort to stop the trade in hippo teeth, apprehend poachers, and try to prevent poaching.