Where Do Hippos Live | Geographic Distribution

The hippopotamus is a giant-sized creature of the kingdom Animalia, which is called a hippo as 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 the 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 they seem to have a heavy body and tiny legs compared to the body, the fantastic fact is hippos can run faster than you!

Where do hippo live

How many types of Hippos are there?

In the ancient period, there were more hippos than the now.

Living hippo in the present:

The many members of the Hippopotamidae family became extinct due to environmental destruction and some other issues. But still, there are two species of this family remaining. They are:

The common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus Amphibius): They are larger than the Pygmy hippos. 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 has mostly the same characteristics as the common hippos. They don’t have protrusive nostrils or eyes like their cousin hippos.

Pygmy hippopotamus

Geographical distribution of hippos in Africa

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

Living area for common hippo:

Most of the common hippos 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. Hippos are not different from that. The climate called tropical savannah is the best to live.

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 hippos.

These places are hot, but there is a certain period when the weather becomes cool. It is an exception for the hippos who live in the tropical rainforest, as the cloudburst takes place throughout the year.

What is a hippo’s habitat?

Hippos 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.

Interestingly, they get up from the water at night and wander around the grassy pasture to feed themselves, which is called the hippo’s lawn.

The reason behind this grazing at night is that the night’s climate helps them 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 of about 5/6 hours through the lowland.

Do hippos live in the jungle?

The jungle is not a chosen place for hippos. They love to stay low land and in meadows while they don’t stay in 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, hippos don’t exist outside Africa. But exceptionally, a group of hippos was imported by the familiar cocaine dealer, Pablo Escobar, to his private zoo in Colombia. It is part of South America. Those are called ‘cocaine hippos’.

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

Later, they assumed that as the hippos had grown bigger in numbers, one of the parts moved to a waterway in Colombia to adapt themselves. Scientists think that there are 80-120 hippos existing in Colombia.

Why are hippos becoming extinct?

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

According to the African Journal of Ecology, hippos are becoming a part of extinct animals because of the traders who have high allurement for hippo tusks.

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

The threat for the hippo:

  • Because of farming, loss of habitat is a threat to the hippo 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 herds have less than 50 members in the family.

As a result, they are now under great threat of being killed and lost from the earth very soon. According to scientists’ assumptions, they will disappear in a century.

Hippopotamus Conservation

Hippo at the zoo

According to the data from IUCN in 2016, the hippo is counted as a vulnerable animal.

Currently, the number of hippos is between 115,000 to 130,000 in numbers. So, it is understandable that day by day, hippos are falling into danger, and they are becoming enlisted as endangered animals.

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.

Rangers of the Uganda Wildlife Authority were permitted to build shelters to monitor the poachers to save 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 killers and poachers.


This African wild species has a significant role in maintaining the ecosystem. Once Africa was the land of hippopotami now turned 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 hippopotamuses which will be lost with the wave of our unconscious behavior.

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  4. Why Does Find a Hippo Mouth Open?
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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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