Part of the project: The Pygmy Hippo

Our Pygmy Hippo Conservation Work in the Ivory Coast

Tai National Park in the Ivory Coast is one of the last strongholds for the Pygmy Hippo and the ultimate aim of all of our Pygmy Hippo project work is to conserve this wonderful species. We are working in Tai National park to:

  • Gather knowledge of the Pygmy Hippo species in its natural habitat
  • Pass this knowledge on to the local scientific community by involving young Ivorian scientists in our work
  • Stimulate local community awareness amongst young Africans about the forest, the unique animals that live within it and how their natural heritage can be nutured for the local economic and cultural good
  • Encourage and support the adoption of forest conservation in local communities

Why Tai National Park requires close attention
Tai National Park, Ivory Coast is an ecological hotspot, with a great diversity of flora and fauna. The local extinction or population reduction of this species can trigger a series of adverse effects in the ecosystem, causing a breakdown of some key ecological processes, such as seed dispersal and predation, nutrient recycling etc. This will eventually jeopardize the ecosystem biodiversity and integrity in the long term.

We aim to decrease the hunting pressure on the Pygmy Hippopotamus by raising awareness at the local community level on how they can use alternative ventures such as ecotourism to derive a sustainable income from their natural heritage, as well as highlighting the perilous situation of the Pygmy Hippo and what the community can do to help.

In summary, our ultimate aims in this project are:

1. Improved education and capacity building.
A better supported and informed education opportunity for the local population, and by doing this learn at the same time more about the number of Pygmy Hippo’s residing in the park, as well about their biology. At present, conservation of the pygmy hippo is hampered by a basic lack of knowledge of its distribution, population status and ecology.

2. A more robust database
Current sightings of pygmy hippo are rare due to its cryptic, primarily nocturnal nature, and thus the need for setting up specialized monitoring systems, including camera trapping devices and radio collaring of individuals, is evident. This will allow the gathering of data which, combined with local community knowledge, will provide the needed information to define a conservation management plan for the species.
3. A mainstreamed awareness
In addition, the awareness raising campaign is aimed to develop a general attitude towards conserving the forest and the animals within, both at community, as well as national level.

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Background and highlights

Team members


Monique Paris

IBREAM Research Director

Gabriella Flacke

Gabriella Flacke

IBREAM PhD Student, University of Western Australia


Inza Kone

IBREAM Advisory Board member, Ivorian based project partner (CSRS)


Mark van Heukelum

Masters Student, Wageningen University


Karim Ouatarra

Ivorian based project partner (CSRS)

Bogui Elie Bandama

Bogui Elie Bandama

Ivorian based PhD student, Université Félix Houphouët Boigny


Henk Eshuis

Masters Student, Wageningen University

Captivity Studies European Collaborators
Professor Franz Schwarzenberger, Sue Walker, Aalborg Zoo (Denmark), Zoo Basel (Switzerland), Kerkrade Zoo (Netherlands), Overloon and Wissel (Zodiac Zoos), Burgers Zoo (Netherlands), Rotterdam Zoo (Netherlands), Berlin Zoo (Germany), Paris Zoo (France), Colchester Zoo (UK), Bristol Zoo (UK), Zoological Society of London (UK), Givskud Zoo (Denmark), Zurich Zoo (Switzerland), Edinburgh Zoo (UK), Chester Zoo (UK).

Captivity Studies USA Collaborators
Baton Rouge Zoo, Brookfield Zoo, Brownsville's Gladys Porter Zoo, Chicago Zoological Society, Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo Giraffe Ranch/Safari Wilderness Ranch, Jackson Zoo, Louisville Zoo, Oklahoma City Zoo, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, Rum Creek Ranch, Southeast Zoo Alliance for Reproduction and Conservation (SEZARC), Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, Zoo Miami.

Captivity Studies USA Sponsors
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV) Wild Animal Health Fund, Center for Conservation of Tropical Ungulates (CCTU), Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, University of Western Australia Postgraduate Student's Association, UWA Convocation.

Ivory Coast Project Work Study Sponsors:
Al Bustan Zoological Centre (UAE), Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation (QATAR), Auckland Zoo (New Zealand), Banham Zoo (UK), CB Films (UK), EI Medical Imaging (USA), Fundación Bioparc (Spain), Mammal Research Institute (South Africa), Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (UAE), Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo (USA), Rum Creek Ranch, Parken Zoo (Sweden), Phoenix Zoo (USA), Prince Bernard Foundation (Netherlands), Seoul Zoo (South Korea), University of Western Australia, WWF Netherlands, The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Zoo Plock (Poland), Zoo New England, Toronto Zoo (Canada).