Group: Hippos Face Extinction in Congo
Only 887 hippos are left in Congo, once home to the world's largest population of the water-loving mammal, and they will be extinct in the African country, an international environmental group warned Monday.
Hippos are being killed by government soldiers, local militia and poachers, the World Wildlife Fund said. The meat is sold as food while teeth end up as part of the illegal ivory trade. Hippos fetch around $50 per animal.
The latest aerial survey puts the hippopotamus population in northeastern Congo's Virunga National Park down to under 1,000 animals, compared to some 29,000 in 1974. The last survey in 2003 counted 1,307.
The continued presence of soldiers and armed groups in the park — a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a 400-mile-long boundary — has made it difficult to protect the animals, the WWF said.