8. Occurrence areas of the common hippopotamus outside the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve, northern Benin: implication for sustainable conservation
This study was conducted to assess the distribution and occurrence areas of the common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) outside the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve (PBR). Data were collected from 2018 to 2019 through the prospection of 139 grids of 2 km x 2 km. Tracks of hippo occurrence outside the protected area were surveyed and presence data in each of four habitats around the Pendjari River were analysed. Hippos are randomly distributed in the vicinity of the Pendjari River outside the protected area. Their distribution is significantly and negatively correlated with the distance from the Pendjari River (β= -0.0003; p=0.05) and positively correlated with cereal crops numbers (β= 1.004; p=0.008) around the Pendjari River. From the 227 hippo tracks recorded, 71.37 % were in cropland, 14% in gallery forest, 7.93% in grassland, and 6.6% at the riverbank. Because hippos occur in croplands, conservation programs and habitat management should focus on educating the local community and promoting positive conservation attitudes towards H. amphibius outside the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve.