The Hippopotamus: Endangered Species Report
The ban on elephant ivory trading has slowed down the poaching of elephants, but
now poachers are getting their ivory from another creature, the hippopotamus. For
the poacher, the hippo is an easy target. They stay together for long hours in muddy
water pools, as many as eighty-one can be found in a single square mile. This
concentration is so big it's only second to that of the elephant. Poachers kill the
animal, then pick out the teeth and sell them for as much as seventy dollars per kilo.
This is a very cheap price. Elephant ivory sells for as much as five-hundred dollars
per kilo. The reason the price-per-kilo is so slow is because hippo ivory is very
brittle compared to the much stronger elephant ivory.
Elephant ivory is no longer at the biggest risk for poaching; hippo ivory is. Eastern
Zaire once had one of the largest hippo populations in the world, around 23,000
hippos. According to a count done in 1994, this number has now dropped to
11,000. The 1989 ban on elephant ivory is the main cause attributed to the
exponential rise to hippo ivory trade.
'European and African activists are petitioning advocacy groups, including last
week's annual Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Florida,
for a ban on hippo poaching. But they say they're a long way from putting an end to
the slaughter.' (Howard & Koehl)
The hippopotamus is an enormous amphibious animal with smooth, hairless skin.
Hippos can be found in Liberia, the Ivory Coast, and a few can also be found in
Sierra Leone and Guinea. Hippos used to be found anywhere south of the Sahara
Desert where they could find enough water and plenty of room to graze. Now, due
to poachers and...