Main Topics

Countries' reports population estimates and development

Country reports will focus on the known or estimated status of the species in each of the 13 countries that represent the West African range of the common hippopotamus. The information included in each report will be the range of the species (with an accompanying description of places inhabited by the species), the most recent confirmed observation, and, if applicable, the location of local extirpation (including the year of the last observation). Additionally, each range state will submit the national population as well as site-specific populations. If no official count exists, populations will be estimated at the site level, providing a robust estimate for the national population as well. For site-specific estimations, they will be estimated using the following categories:

(1) very small: <20

(2) small: 20-49

(3) Average: 50-199

(4) Large: 200+

For each population, the population trend will be estimated. We will distinguish between short-term trends and long-term trends.

Threats (overview and prioritization)

An overview of the threats facing the species across the entire range and the threats facing the West African population, and then down to the national level for each range country. The species faces many threats: hunting (for meat and ivory), habitat encroachment/loss, human-hippo conflict (fishermen and water collection), water pollution due to people and mining activities, and others. These threats vary among countries and in scope. Thus, the document will involve a list of threats, including the potential impact on hippo conservation. 

Law enforcement

Law enforcement is crucial for the long-term conservation of any mega-herbivore. This aspect varies highly among countries in the region. The changes in law enforcement (positive or negative) will affect the implementing of the planned actions. Therefore, this chapter is necessary in an action plan.  

Trophy hunting

Sustainable hunting through trophy hunting has supporters and detractors but can be an important aspect of conservation. This is especially worth exploring in areas with low rates of ecotourism where trophy hunting can be sustainable and may be an important contribution to the financial stability of protected areas. Thus, this topic must be considered a possible conservation measure in some of the West African countries involved. 

Methodology issues, data deficiencies

Four main methods are used to estimate common hippopotamus population numbers in various regions: aerial counts, on-land counting, water-based counting (from boats), and reports by local people. Various methods lead to results that are difficult to compare directly. Therefore, any correction of estimates based on different methodologies used in multiple localities should be considered.

Hippo-human conflict

For each range state, we will define the scope of conflict incidents (number of incidents) and types or sources of conflict (fisheries, crop destruction, etc.). Since hippo-human conflict represents one of the significant threats to the species in the region, one of the main aims of the workshop will be to define various solutions that could mitigate hippo-human conflict and create better coexistence between communities and hippos. As learned from other types of conflict, e.g., elephant-human conflict, there is no universal solution that might be applied in all localities. Nevertheless, developing a list of possible solutions will be necessary for solving this type of conflict in other localities in other African regions. 

Capacity development

We are starting to develop local practitioners and government contacts. An additional focus is increasing the number of active members in many range countries. Therefore, the further aim of the workshop is to improve the capacity building of people directly devoted to hippo conservation in the 13 range countries in West Africa (listed below). 

Site specific actions as well as transboundary actions

Based on the IUCN SSC Conservation Cycle (Asses, Plan, Act, Network, and Communication), the workshop includes four parts of the cycle (Asses, Plan, Network, and Communication). However, the fifth part (act) is critical for the conservation in the field. Thus, the main output, a regional West Africa Conservation Action Plan, will include a list of specific actions for each country to guide common hippo conservation. Specific attention will be paid to joint transboundary actions as many protected areas are situated on countries' international borders where law enforcement remains difficult and where cooperative efforts are needed.   

Defining responsible entities for filling an Action plan

In addition to creating the Action Plan, the goal of the workshop is to define institutions that will be able to implement actions in the field, agreed-upon methodologies, and timing, as well as those continuing to monitor the population development in all parts of the region.  

Development of an ACTION PLAN for Conservation of common hippo in West Africa

An Action plan will be published within one year after the meeting (till March 2025). It will involve the following sections: Status, Threats, and Challenges (including human-hippo conflict, law enforcement, and capacity building). In addition, it will define what measurements will be implemented for saving the populations of the species within countries as well as inter-countries, timelines, and responsible entities.