Conservation Success: Virunga Hippos Increasing in Numbers After Long Demise Due to Poaching

Another Conservation Success!

A new study revealed the hippo population is climbing back in Virunga National Park in Africa, after suffering from a decline due to habitat loss and poaching in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

This conservation success is confirmed by the researchers researchers from the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) who conducted the research.

WCS Scientist Deo Kujirakwinja, the lead author of the paper said, “Our findings that hippos are on the increase is encouraging and evidence that efforts to protect hippos and other species are working. ”

The published research titled “Conservation of the common hippopotamus in Virunga National Park, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo” appears in the most recent addition of Suiform Soundings, a newsletter published by the IUCN’s Pigs, Peccaries, and Hippos Specialist Group.

Threatened by Poaching, Hunting and Habitat Loss

The Virunga National Park in Africa has the largest population of hippos in the region. In fact, the researchers project that the current population of hippos in the park represents only 11 percent of the original population and only 8.2 percent of the peak population estimate of about 30,000 individuals made in the 1970s.

But hippos are becoming increasingly threatened by hunting and other factors, resulting in their decline in numbers.

The African hippos.
The African hippos.

Concerted Efforts Make A Difference

The number of hippos has declined for decades due to hunting, human development and agriculture. Thanks to the collaborative efforts between fishermen and park authorities in both the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, the feared extinction may be finally thwarted.

In addition, the increased enforcement in Virunga National Park’s portion of Lake Edward and nearby river systems contributed to the success of the conservation of hippos.

Andrew Plumptre, WCS senior scientist and co-author of the report said, “This recent surveys have shown that the Ishasha River on the border with Uganda is now very important for their conservation and shows that transboundary conservation efforts are succeeding there.”

Meet the Africa’s Iconic Species

Hippos are one of the largest mammals in Africa. The common hippo grows up to 13 feet in length and weighs up to 4,400 pounds. The herbivorous animals thrive in pools, rivers, and lakes and can stay submerged for up to six minutes.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.