Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Conway, A.L., S.M. Hernandez, J.P. Carroll, G.T. Green, and L. Larson. 2014. Local awareness of and attitudes toward pygmy hippopotamus conservation in the Moa River Island Complex, Sierra Leone. Oryx. 49: 550-558.




Abstract The pygmy hippopotamus Choeropsis liberiensis is an Endangered species found only in the Upper Guinea rainforests of West Africa. Using a two-phase approach, with initial semi-structured interviews followed by more extensive questionnaires, we examined local residents’ awareness of and attitudes towards the pygmy hippopotamus along the Moa River near Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Sierra Leone. The interviews and questionnaires addressed human–hippopotamus interactions, local knowledge and awareness of pygmy hippopotamus ecology and behaviour, and public attitudes towards hippopotamus conservation. Overall, 22% of questionnaire respondents acknowledged benefits related to hippopotamus conservation; factors affecting the perception of benefits included age, livestock ownership, distance from Tiwai Island and exposure to conservation programmes. The results of this study could be used to inform the conservation of the pygmy hippopotamus and highlight the critical role of local support in the management of threatened species in biodiversity hotspots.