Rare pygmy hippos photographed

March 11, 2008

British conservationists have captured photographs of two extremely rare pygmy hippos living in the wild in Liberia.

Ben Collen of the Zoological Society of London said the hippos, one of the most elusive and secretive large animals, were photographed in Sapo National Park in Liberia, the society said Monday in a news release.

Conservationists were surprised to see the mammals had survived two brutal civil wars in recent years.

"We were delighted to discover that a population still persists there, but remain highly concerned for the species, which continues to face significant threats from poaching and habitat degradation," Collen said.

The pygmy hippopotamus (Hexaprotodon liberiensis) is a large mammal species whose closest living relatives, besides the common hippopotamus, are whales, the society said. There are estimated to be fewer than 3,000 individuals left in the wild in Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

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