The Endangered pygmy hippopotamus Choeropsis liberiensis is one of the least known mammals. It is hunted for its meat and its habitat has been severely reduced by wide-scale deforestation, resulting in a serious population decline. With a highly restricted range in the Upper Guinea rainforest of West Africa, Liberia is one of its last strongholds.
Recognizing the need for urgent and coordinated action, Liberia has become the first country to develop a national strategy for the conservation of the pygmy hippo. A workshop, co-organized by Fauna & Flora International and the Forestry Development Authority of Liberia, and funded by the Flagship Species Fund and BHP Billiton, was held in Monrovia in December 2012. Attended by 25 participants, including representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, the national police service, the private sector, civil society and international NGOs, the workshop built on the 2011 framework Regional Action Plan to produce the first National Conservation Strategy for the pygmy hippopotamus.
The Strategy, finalized on 1 July 2013, follows the Species Conservation Strategy process developed by the IUCN Species Survival Commission Species Planning Sub-committee. It provides an up-to-date assessment of the conservation status of the pygmy hippo and its habitat in Liberia, outlines current threats and identifies critical activities needed to address them. It also identifies the bodies and organizations central to ensuring these activities are implemented effectively.
Stakeholders in Liberia are committed in their efforts to work towards a vision in which viable populations of pygmy hippos thrive throughout their range in healthy ecosystems, acting as a flagship species for the Upper Guinea Forest, coexisting in harmony with human populations, and retaining cultural importance for the benefit of present and future generations. This new Conservation Strategy will support the stakeholders to coordinate current and future conservation work and provide a mechanism for a regular monitoring of progress.