How many hippos live in Bui National Park?

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.