Hippos were found all across sub-Saharan Africa over the last century, but now they’re restricted to very limited areas. Competition with humans over water and space has been the biggest factor in their shrinking range. Illegal hunting and retaliatory killing (for crop damage or attacks on humans) has also contributed to their decline. As hippos decline, wetlands are suffering because hippos are critical to wetland ecosystems.
Gorongosa’s hippos experienced a sharp decline from their population of 3,500 in the 1970’s but with increased protection, the population is rebounding from 100 hippos in the year 2000 to 250 hippos today. Research on Gorongosa’s hippos is underway to better understand how Gorongosa’s wetlands are doing with fewer hippos. With increased protection and a better understanding of our hippo population, recovery of Gorongosa’s magnificent hippos is off to a good start.