Pygmy Hippo Conservation in the
Cestos-Senkwehn Rivershed Forests of Liberia

The World Conservation

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Alexander Peal, of the Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia, and Jamison Suter, of Flora and Fauna International, are spearheading a field project on pygmy hippos.

The project aims at conserving the pygmy hippopotamus in one of its prime habitats in south-eastern Liberia. Liberia has two remaining intact blocks of Upper Guinean Rainforest, which are of incalculable biological value given the poor condition and fragmentation of the forests in most of humid West Africa, which are being rapidly degraded. Only in Liberia are the rainforests largely in good condition, and only there do certain keystone species requiring large intact forest blocks stand a long-term chance of survival.

The project is the follow-on to a field assessment of the Cestos-Senkwehn Rivershed forests conducted in 1999 with support from WildInvest. It will define the extent of the Pygmy Hippopotamus range in lowland south-east Liberia, mapping prime forest habitat and degraded forests, and categorising disturbances caused by logging, road construction, human settlement and farming. Disturbances such as hunting and alluvial mining will be recorded too, as will local attitudes towards protecting the area for conservation purposes. A core habitat area is intended to be defined and recommended for full protection as a national park or its equivalent. The project will also design a communications strategy and carry out a public awareness campaign featuring the pygmy hippo as a national flagship species for conservation and lobbying key public and private sector agencies for protection of its habitat.

For more information regarding this program, please contact the Chair of the IUCN Hippo Specialty Group, Becca Lewison