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Like many large mammals in Africa, hippos are in trouble due to the usual bevy of problems - including loss of habitat, climate change, and human conflict.

   An estimation of hippo populations, according to the IUCN red list, indicates a 7-20% overall decline in the last decade alone. And the largest population decline has occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is a country that was once believed to boast some of the largest hippo populations in Africa. At the moment hippos may only be listed as 'Vulnerable', but at this current rate of decline this could change quite rapidly.

   A recent assessment suggests that only between 125,000 and 148,000 common hippos remain in 29 countries across the entire continent, which places the hippo population in Africa at approximately a quarter of the overall elephant population.

    And it doesn't just stop there, as their smaller West African cousin - the pygmy hippo - is also under threat, and has been classified as an endangered species by the Zoological Society of London. Half the height and weighing less than a quarter of an adult hippopotamus, it has been estimated that there are only around 2,000 pygmy hippos left in the wild, with numbers declining as their habitat is destroyed and they are hunted for bushmeat.

  Taking these figures into consideration, it is clear that it is time for a greater focus on hippos - a major player in the African ecosystem.

   

To learn more about these fascinating creatures and how to help them, just click on the 'Next' button above each image.

   

And to find out more about this week's author, Karen Paolillo, and the incredible conservation work that is being done at Turgwe Hippo Trust to save the hippos, head to the last page of this gallery.

   

Cover image provided by Will Burrard-Lucas for Norman Carr Safaris