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Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) & Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choerpsis liberiensis) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat


Common Hippos

  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Native to Angola; Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Equatorial Guinea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Mali; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania, United Republics of Togo; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
  • Locally extinct in Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Liberia
  • Latest records for Nile Delta and Egypt - early 1800's

Pygmy Hippos

  • Mainly in Liberia
  • Only overlaps with Common Hippos in upper reaches of rivers in Ivory Coast


Common Hippos

  • Most abundant in estuaries and lower sections of rivers
  • In recent times, have been found in reservoirs.
  • Absent in rainforests, except near large rivers
  • Frequently wander from water in rainy season.
  • Water habitat must be deep enough for submersion with nearby grassland for foraging.
  • Can survive in muddy wallows, but must have permanent access to water in dry season because of complex skin physiology. (Will crack if exposed to air for long periods

Pygmy Hippos

  • Forests
  • Ecologically similar to tapirs

Distribution of the Common Hippo

Hippo distribution

Common Hippos are found in many countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Adapted from according to IUCN fact sheet. Click here or on map for detailed distribution (IUCN).

Distribution of the Pygmy Hippo

Pygmy Hippo Distribution

The pygmy hippo is endemic to the Upper Guinea Forest of West Africa.

Today, it occurs in only four countries, though it was once more widespread.

Adapted from according to IUCN fact sheet. Click here or on map for detailed distribution (IUCN).

Page Citations

Lewison & Oliver (2008)
Oliver (1993)

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