Where Do Hippos Live | Geographic Distribution

The hippopotamus is a giant-sized creature of the kingdom Animalia which is called by a hippo as a short name. In Greek, they are called ‘River Horse’. Endemically, Sub-Saharan Africa is the place where they live.

It is one of the largest land mammals after Elephant and Rhinoceros. Besides, dolphins, whales, porpoises, etc. are the closest relatives of the hippo family.

They are recognizable by their special-looking shoulder which is barrel-shaped. Though it seems that they have a heavy body and tiny legs comparing to the body, but the fantastic fact is they can run faster than you (19mph)!

Where do hippo live

How many types of Hippos are there?

In the ancient period, there were more river horses than the present. Here a classification is given based on their origin and the present living types.

According to the origin:

From the classification of the hippo family, we get 5 genres according to the place of origin through all of them don’t exist at present. They are:

  1. Great northern
  2. East African
  3. South African
  4. West African
  5. Angola 

Living hippo in present:

The member of the family Hippopotamidae became extinct because of environmental destruction and some other issues. But still, there are two species of this family remain. They are:

The common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus Amphibius): They are larger than the Pygmy. Their nostrils and eyes are protrusive so that they can take a breath and see while submerging under the water.

Common hippopotamus

Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis Liberiensis Or Hexaprotodon Liberiensis): Pygmy have the same characteristics mostly to the common. But in some cases, they are different. They don’t have protrusive nostrils and eyes.

Pygmy hippopotamus

Geographical ordination of hippo in Africa

Africa is the largest reign of a hippopotamus. They live through this area in different portions.

Living area for common hippo:

Most of the common river horses graze around Sub Saharan areas of Africa.

Living area for pigmy hippo:

Pygmy hippos are found in the rainforest of West Africa.

They are slightly different from the common ones.

There is only less than 3000 Pygmy left in the Western part of Africa. 

Geographic distribution of Hippo

Range Map of Hippo: Where Red is the historical range, and green is the current range.

In what climate does a hippo live?

Animals have several types of adaptations to living. They are not different from that. The climate called tropical savannah is the best to live for river horses.

You can say this wet-dry tropical climate also. That means a place where a combination of dry and wet weather exists is a better place for hippo.

These places are hot but there is a certain period when the weather becomes cool. It is an exception for the river horse which lives in the tropical rainforest as the cloudburst takes place throughout the year.

What is a hippo’s habitat?

This giant mammal loves to plunge their body through the whole day underwater. That’s why they prefer shallow water bodies like lakes, rivers, mangrove swamps, etc. Mostly sweet water is preferable to them. But sometimes they also drown in salty water.

It is an interesting fact that they get up from the water at night and wanders around the grassy pasture to feed themselves which is called the hippo’s lawn.

The reason behind this grazing at night is that the climate of the night helps them to keep their skin moist and they can avoid the extreme heat of the sun of Africa.

When they don’t eat, they start to take a marathon walk about 5/6 hours through the low land.

Do hippos live in the jungle?

The jungle is not a chosen place for river horses. They love to stay low land and meadow while they don’t stay into the water. But pygmy is found in the rainforest of Africa. You can see them in some rainforest areas like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

Do hippos live outside of Africa?

Naturally, river horse doesn’t exist outside Africa. But exceptionally a group of giant-sized river horses were imported by the familiar cocaine dealer, Pablo Escobar to his private zoo in Colombia. It is part of South America. Those are called ‘cocaine hippo’.

Scientists suggested killing one of their portions because of being dangerous in the future.

Later, they assumed that as the animals have grown bigger in numbers, one of the parts moved to a waterway of Colombia for adapting themselves. Scientists think that there 80-120 animals, existing in Colombia.

Why hippo becomes extinct?

The semi-aquatic mammal is going to be an extinct animal according to the scientist’s research. Men brutally kill them for their meat, skin, and teeth. Besides, the conflict with human beings also decreases their number.

A worrying fact which scientists published in the African Journal of Ecology is that river horse is becoming a part of extinct animal because of the traders who have high allurement for hippo’s tusks.

In the market, they sell it at a high price. Sometimes it is used instead of ivory. Even the fat of hippo is also had demand to the people.

The threat for the hippo:

  • Because of farming, loss of habitat is another threat for the river horse clans. They need a huge waterbody to protect their skin and long low land to graze. But these places are getting filled up.
  • Human living places reduce the open land.
  • Poaching for meat is another reason behind the extinction of river horses.
  • People kill them to protect their land from them.
  • Wars in African countries like Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.
  • Many groups have less than 50 animals in the family.

As a result, they are now in a great threat to be killed and lost from the earth very soon. According to the assumption of the scientists, they will be disappeared in a century. What a fact of misery is this!

Hippopotamus Conservation

Hippo at the zoo

According to the data of IUCN in May 2006, the hippo is counted as an endangered extinct animal. They mentioned about the quantity till then and it was between 125,000 and 148,000.

Currently, it has reduced by 115,000 to 130,000 in numbers. So, it is understandable that day by day river horses are falling into danger and they are become enlisted as endangered animals.

The third-largest mammal hippopotamus needs conservation as they are in a stage of losing from this earth.

Global Conservation and the Ugandan Conservation Foundation, the Ugandan Waterways Project kept an important step to make the conservation of river horse.

Rangers of Uganda Wildlife Authority were permitted to build shelters to monitor the poachers for saving this extinct animal at Lake Edward and Lake George.

Rangers have the power to arrest the poachers who take illegal acts and forfeit the stuff from them. This kind of initiative can save this species from the killers and poachers.


This African wild species has a significant role to maintain the ecosystem of the environment. Once Africa was the land of hippopotamus now turns into a place that is risky for them.

To improve ecological balance, we have to save these instinctive animals and make more conservations for them.

Otherwise, our next generation only will hear the story of the river horse, the third-largest mammal which will be lost with the wave of our unconscious behavior.

Related Posts:

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  2. What Color is Hippo Sweat? Is It Blood Sweat?
  3. What Color is Hippo Milk? Is It Really Pink?
  4. Why Does Find a Hippo Mouth Open?
  5. How much does a hippopotamus weigh

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Clay Traynor

Hello, I am Clay, a Zoophilist, Researcher, and Writer. I Write interesting and unknown facts about animal life, habitat, and health.

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