Thursday, August 31, 2017
The Pigmy Hippo
There are two species of hippopotamus - the common hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius) and the pygmy hippo (Choeropsis liberiensis). The latter, unlike their chubby sociopath cousins who's heads can be described to be swimming in blood lust (i.e. one of the most dangerous animals in Africa), are non-aggressive and rarely fight when meeting conspecifics, opting instead to simply ignore one another (source).
They're just adorable tubby lumps, around about knee-height (adult for scale).
Unfortunately you’d be lucky to give the wee chap a tickle in the wild - not only because they're very rare, listed as Endangered by the IUCN, but they're very shy. Few people see them in the remote, dense rainforests whence they hail in West Africa.
They have few natural predators; leopards have been known to take calves and, though not observed, their range overlaps with that of the nile crocodile which may also hunt them - otherwise they live rather peaceful lives. At least that was until we arrived on the scene.
Humans often hunt them for bush meat, particularly in logged areas where they're more accessible. Combined with broader habitat loss and fragmentation, and an ongoing decline in their population, the future doesn't look too rosy for these tubby balls in the wild. They tolerate captivity well however, and with a successful international captive breeding program there's still lots of hope for their future.