Invitation to hippos to join the list of the most endangered animals in the world | keep

Hippos can be added to the list of endangered animals in the world due to the dwindling of their numbers due to the climate crisis, poaching and the ivory trade.

Semi-aquatic mammals are found in lakes and rivers across sub-Saharan Africa Its population is estimated at 115,000-130,000. In addition to the trade in ivory – found in his teeth – and animal parts, they are threatened by habitat loss and degradation, and the effects of global warming.

Hippos are also legally traded for commercial and prize hunting under Cites, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Before the upcoming Cites Cop in Panama in November this year10 West African countries, including Togo, Gabon and Mali, and it has been suggested That hippos are accorded the highest protection under the Cites by being listed in Annex I of the Convention. Hippos are already listed as an Appendix II species, which means they are not necessarily endangered but may become so if their trade is not regulated.

Hippo cools in a swamp while egrets search for food behind it, in Murchison Falls National Park, northwest Uganda.
A hippopotamus cools off in a swamp while an egret searches for food behind it, in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda. Photo: AP

If approved, it would mean a total international ban on trade in hippo body parts and ivory to help avoid the species’ decline. It is estimated that at least 77,579 pieces and hippo products were legally traded from 2009 to 2018.

In 2016, hippos were classified as vulnerable to extinction IUCN Red List with local declines, particularly in West Africa, raising concerns about the species’ survival in some of the 38 African countries in which it is found.

The hippopotamus is one of the heaviest land animals in the world. Males can weigh up to 1800 kg, and they are often found in large groups. Animals are particularly vulnerable to overexploitation due to their long gestation periods of eight months, and females do not reach sexual maturity until nine or 10 years.

Hippos have been overlooked as a species of conservation interest due to their high population densities, which can give the impression that there are many in the wild, said Rebecca Lewison, co-chair of the IUCN SSC group that specializes in hippopotamuses. But the population has decreased dramatically over the past twenty years.

“The biggest threat to hippos is habitat loss and degradation. Common hippos depend on fresh water to survive, and this often puts them in conflict with local communities that also need fresh water for agriculture, energy, fishing and residential development.

Human conflicts between hippopotamuses are increasing, especially in the West Africa, where the common hippopotamus population is rapidly declining. Unfortunately, human conflicts between hippopotamuses have resulted in both human and hippo mortality, and have contributed to a problem associated with unregulated hunting for meat and ivory, which are found in their tusks.”

The proposals are unlikely to affect a small number of the population Hippos found in Colombia, which grew from the private collection of drug lord Pablo Escobar. Many environmentalists say these species are invasive and should be eliminated.

Following this proposal, the Cites Secretariat will provide an assessment of whether the hippos meet the criteria of Appendix I and issue a recommendation based on expert evidence.

Kenan Steers, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara who is based part of the year in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, said he supports the proposed list because of the important role hippos play in ecosystems. A large proportion of hippos are found in rivers that experience a significant reduction in river flow. He said threats such as habitat destruction for agriculture are a huge issue.

Under the right conditions, Steers said, residents can stabilize. “They can recover very quickly with enough vegetation. Any type of protected area would be well suited to rapidly increasing the population.”

John Scanlon, secretary general of Cites from 2010 to 2018, said the upgrade to Annex I would include a ban on all commercial trade in hippos, but would not ban bushmeat hunting. It is meat, teeth or skins: any commercial international trade would be prohibited.

“A number of organizations will be offering their views on the proposal, and I think it would be a big deal,” he added. “There are only about 1,500 species classified in Appendix I.”

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