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How many hippos live in Bui National Park? Print E-mail

ImageSurveys conducted since 1990 suggested that the hippo population in Bui National Park was increasing. However the survey commissioned for the Bui Hydroelectric Project suggests that only 200 animals exist in the park, about half the number that was suggested by previous studies.

Can the hippo population at Bui really have declined by 50% in a few years? Hippos are long-lived animals and such a drastic decline in numbers can only have come about as the result of the death of many animals, rather than simply a decline in birth rates.

In 2002 local fisherman and wildlife staff reported to us that unknown people were hunting hippos in Bui National Park with dynamite. They stated that groups of hippos were being targetted and that the meat was left to rot. A cynical interpretation of this is that dynamite was being used to reduce the numbers of hippos in the park. Because no independent studies of the hippo population at Bui has been allowed by the Ghanian Government since 2001 this cannot be verified. 

However, if the numbers reported in the Environmental Impact Assessment are accurate a major population catastrophe must have occurred between 2001 and 2006. 



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Varanus bitatawa

Varanus bitatawa is the third species of  monitor lizard to be recognised by science that belongs to the "Pandan Biawak" group,  all of which are of at least as great a conservation concern as the Komodo dragon, but receive virtually none of the attention. Pandan Biawak occur only in lowland dipterocarp forest. The first species (Varanus olivaceus or Butaan) was discovered in 1845 and not seen alive by a scientist until the late 1970s. The next species (Varanus mabitang or Mabitang) was discovered in 2001 and in 2010 Varanus bitatawa (Butikaw or Bitatawa) was described. Other species of frugivorous monitor lizards may remain undescribed, but many may have  gone extinct without ever having been recognised.




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