Dry season counts (1 976 – 201 6) in the Faro - Bénoué protected area complex (North Cameroon) highlight the continued importance of West – Central Africa’s largest population of common hippopotamus



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Scholte-et al. 2016-Hippos-NorthCameroon.compressed.pdf (347.8 KiB)



We reviewed the surveys on the status of hippopotamus, hereafter hippo, in the c. 1.3 million ha protected area complex of Faro – Bénoué, North Cameroon. Initiated in 1976, counts were conducted in the second part of the dry season, when the Bénoué and Faro rivers were the parks’ only remaining source of water and observers followed for several days the dry river bed, counting each individual hippo. Bénoué National Park (NP) has been surveyed between 1976 and 2013, showing a reduction of hippo numbers from 400 to 180, negatively correlated with the presence of gold diggers. However in the vicinity of the hunting camps and park headquarters, with an allyear round protection presence, numbers have remained with 3.7 individuals km1 relatively constant.



Contrastingly, numbers of hippo along 97 km of the Faro River have remained stable with 647, 525 and 685 between 2000 – 2014 showing the efficiency of the private sector (i.e. safari hunting) compensating a decline in state protection efforts. Results of the most comprehensive survey to date, implemented in Faro NP in March and Bénoué NP in May 2016, showed only 136 individuals along the Bénoué River, with 92 individuals found in nearby tributary Mayo Oldiri. Numbers along the 20002014 Faro River trajectory showed a continued stable number of 665.



An additional 206 hippo were observed further upstream in hunting zones 16 and 15. The observed total of 1093 individuals in the FaroBénoué ecosystem in 2016 largely surpasses estimates from other populations in the wider region. This signifies that the FaroBénoué hippo population is not only the largest in NorthCentral Africa but of the entire WestCentral Africa region from Senegal in the West to Chad in the East, and given their possible genetic specificity the population is of global conservation concern.



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