President Adama Barrow receiving the hippopotamus at Mankamangkunda
21st, October 2023 – The Gunjur Conservationists and Ecotourism would like to strongly condemn the gruesome killing of the hippopotamus that is making round in the social media. The association expressed its disappointment with the Gambian head of state for receiving such a gift at his hometown. In accordance with the Gambia’s Biodiversity/Wildlife Act 2003, a person shall not hunt or harvest a scheduled biological resource except under and in accordance with the conditions of a valid hunting or harvesting license issued.
“61. A person who hunt or harvests a scheduled biological resource in contravention of this Part commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand dalasis or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both the fine and imprisonment”
Hippos are under threat in the West African sub-region from habitat loss and destruction. Dependent on freshwater systems, hippos are threatened by drought, agricultural and other water diversions, and loss of grazing areas. Climate change is predicted to cause further droughts in sub-Saharan Africa with detrimental consequences for hippos, reducing their birth rates and increasing their mortality. The Gambia cannot continue to allow hippos to be killed under the reason that hippos caused havoc on rice paddies in local communities in rural Gambia. Thus, causing an economic loss and food insecurity for local farmers. The issue of human-wildlife conflict/or wildlife causing damage to local farms has been a continues problem.
The government of the Gambia through the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Parks & Wildlife Management needed to work on developing an integrated wildlife damage management (IWDM) model.
Developing and implementing such a model should look into land use planning, developing alternative natural barriers/buffer zones, and as well as establishment of wildlife corridors away from potential conflict hotspots.
This will help potentially prevent and minimize hippos causing damages to local rice paddies.
Hippos needs to be granted urgent protection under conservation and wildlife management policies. Hippos are exceptional ecologically; they play key roles in both aquatic and grassland ecosystems. They assist in fertilizing rivers by grazing on land and excreting their waste in the water. Also, hippo trails serve as an important role as drainage channels during floods. On land, hippo gullies may grow to 20 m (65.6 ft) deep that fill with water during rains for other species. Socioeconomically, tourists enjoy watching hippos, such program can be explored in the Gambia to help generate income for the country and provide economic incentive for local communities involved in hippo population conservation efforts.
The Gambia needs to deploy effective conservation measures to ensure that the country’s remaining wildlife species are protected for posterity. This includes urgently addressing human exploitation of hippo population in the Gambia. The conservation of these species and their required habitats can bring significant benefits to other freshwater and terrestrial species.