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These peculiar dwarves are found in West Africa where they are now a threatened species due to habitat destruction and poaching. Pygmy Hippos weigh in at 250kg, which makes a person wonder why they are called pygmies. In comparison to the Nile hippopotamus, the pygmy hippo is small and therefore deserving of their pygmy status.


Apart from being a lot smaller than the river hippo, the pygmy hippo differs in other areas too. The Nile hippo is a very social animal, living in groups of up to 15 adults. The only times you will find two pygmy hippos together is when they are either mating or when you see a mother and a calf. Apart from being solitary in nature, these dwarves are also very territorial with males and females each having their own territories which they will defend from other hippos. A female will share her territory with her calf until the calf can fend for itself.

The Pygmy Hippo has a rather colourful and mysterious history. Explorers and scientists never believed the legend about a small hippo living on land. In 1911 Schomburgk managed to capture five live specimens and took them back to Europe. Only then did the Pygmy Hippo receive the status of a distinct and existent species.


The name “hippopotamus” is derived from two Greek words: hippos, which means horse, and potamus meaning water. Strangely enough, the pygmy hippo prefers dry land unlike its cousin the river hippo and is adapted in various ways to cope with conditions on land. It does not have webbed feet usually associated with swimming but toes to help it move around in vegetation.

There are currently less than 3 000 Pygmy Hippos left in the wild. Due to deforestation their habitat has shrunk considerably during the 20th century and even more dramatically in the last 30 years. Hunting is also proving to be a threat as hippo meat provides protein to local people.

Today the Pygmy Hippo is listed on Appendix II of Cites and classed as “Vulnerable”. National parks provide the only habitat where these tiny hippos are protected. Scientists at Sapo National Park in south eastern Liberia are proposing that the park be declared a biosphere reserve. Supported by funding from national and international organizations such as Cango, these efforts may help the pygmy hippo survive.

Eating water plants, fallen fruit and leaves, these herbivores prefer tropical forests. What they might lack in size, they make up for in heart. Our two Pygmy Hippos, Herbert and Hilda, are cherished by everyone on the ranch and it is quite funny to see grown caregivers running through their enclosures in an effort to avoid Herbert and Hilda’s wrath for entering their territory!

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PHOTO GALLERY (click to enlarge)
Pygmy Hippo Hippo in Water Pygmy Hippo Encounter Pygmy Hippo Encounter
dwarf hippo Cango Wildlife Ranch Pygmy Hippo Oudtshoorn Hippo Pygmy Hippo Teeth
Pygmy Hippo Baby Pygmy Hippo Drinking Milk


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Pygmy Hippo
Pygmy Hippo
Pygmy Hippo
Pygmy Hippo Encounter

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