The hippo is an enigma. It lives hidden from us — yet, it faces habitat loss now

Source: The post is based on the articleThe hippo is an enigma. It lives hidden from us — yet, it faces habitat loss nowpublished in TOI on 6th August 2022.

What is the News?

This article talks about Hippopotamus.

What is Hippopotamus?

Hippopotamus is also known as the river horse. They live along the rivers and lakes throughout sub-Saharan Africa. 

It is one of only two extant species in the family Hippopotamidae, the other being the pygmy hippopo which lives in forested areas in very few countries across west Africa.

IUCN Status: Vulnerable

Features: Weighing up to 8,000 pounds, the hippo is the heaviest land animal after the elephant.

– Hippos seek refuge from the heat by living in water during the day, and at night they come ashore to feed on short, soft grasses and fallen fruit. 

– The ears, eyes, and nostrils are located high on the head so that the rest of the body may remain submerged.

Threats: Their population is currently in decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation, particularly in West Africa which is occurring as more and more humans lay claim to increasingly scarce freshwater resources.

Significance of Hippos: The decline of hippos is a cause of worry because hippos are an integral part of balancing freshwater ecosystems. These include nutrient recycling, generating matter which helps river fish and aquatic insects survive, harbouring aquatic birds, conducting habitat engineering by making tracks in water bodies etc.

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