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African countries want hippos on endangered species list | The new times

Ten African countries have proposed that the hippo be given the highest protection under the official endangered animals list of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). .

Hippos are already listed as an Appendix II species, which means they are not necessarily threatened with extinction but could become so if their trade is not regulated.

Campaigners in the 10 countries want the hippos to be upgraded to “Appendix I”, the highest level, which would make the trade in hippo body parts and ivory completely illegal.

A species only officially becomes “endangered” when CITES indicates it. Whether or not the hippos will be classified as endangered will be known until the next CITES meeting in Panama in November.

Native to Africa, hippos are huge water-loving animals. They are also among the largest and most dangerous land mammals on the planet.

The current state of the world’s hippo population is so precarious. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that between 115,000 and 130,000 common hippos remain in the wild, down 20% from 1990.

Hippos are particularly vulnerable to overexploitation due to their long gestation periods of eight months and females that do not reach sexual maturity until nine or ten years old.

The ivory trade also encourages the killing of hippos as ivory can be found in their teeth, while other hippo body parts are also traded at high prices.

77,579 hippopotamus parts and products were legally marketed from 2009 to 2018, The Guardian.

On top of all this, climate change is reducing hippos’ access to fresh water and destroying their habitats.

In 2016, the IUCN listed hippos as vulnerable to extinction on its Red List with local declines, particularly in West Africa, raising fears of the species’ survival in some of the 38 African countries where it occurs. find.

The 2016 IUCN Red List Assessment states that “The conservation status of hippos remains precarious and the need for direct conservation action to protect hippos and their habitat across their range is a priority”.

In Rwanda, hippos are not highly threatened, according to Telesphore Ngoga, a conservation analyst at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

He noted that the problems they face are related to the reduction of wetlands that hold fresh water where they live, as people use them for other purposes such as agriculture, adding that hippos are sneaking in. sometimes on people’s farms, which can lead to human-wildlife conflict.

He recognizes that hippos are under threat in different countries and therefore sees the need to strengthen conservation efforts as a good decision.

“We are happy to have succeeded in conserving our hippos, but if the species can be added to the endangered species list, it will lead to their conservation enforcement,” he said.

Although the number of hippos in Rwanda is still unknown, Ngoga knows that the species is found in Akagera National Park, Nyabarongo and Akanyaru Wetlands as well as the Ruhwa River in Rusizi District.

In the event of human-wildlife conflict, Rwanda has established the Special Grants Fund to pay compensation costs to communities around parks and lakes whose properties are destroyed by wild animals or injured individuals or whose relatives were killed by the same animals.

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