Habitat use in wild pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis) in Taï National Park, Côte d’Ivoire
The Pygmy Hippopotamus (PH) Choeropsis liberiensis (Morton, 1849) is a rare and cryptic mammal. Considered as an endangered species by International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2017, the main threats to PH are the fragmentation of its habitat, the forest, and hunting. Its population has greatly diminished during the last two decades from nearly 15,000 individuals to an estimated number of approximately 3,000 individuals today. Studies of this species’ ecology in the wild are rare. This study focuses on habitat use and locomotion pattern in the Taï National Park (TNP) in Côte d’Ivoire, the last stronghold of the PH in the world. Camera-traps pictures and direct observations of hippo signs and individuals were used for this study in a preselected area where observation had shown that this is the habitat of the species. The study describes the features of the micro-habitat of the PH and shows how this habitat is used daily as well as the movement pattern in the wild. These results add to the ecological knowledge of this endemic species and contribute in building a knowledge-based conservation strategy.
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Keywords: Pygmy hippopotamus, home range, habitat requirements, West Africa