Pygmy hippos are appropriately named. The endangered semi-aquatic mammals number only about 3,000 and are a tenth of the size of hippopotamuses, their better-known and better-researched cousins. They're sneaky, nocturnal and live in the west African rainforest -- of which there is very little left.
According to the Telegraph, the hippos are unduly threatened by deforestation that has been decimating the wilderness within Ivory Coast for many years. It would be one thing if researchers knew more about the species and could understand just how habitat destruction is affecting the pygmy hippos, as well as what can be done to remediate the situation. But, as researcher Wei-Yeen Yap explained, it's hard to figure out how best to protect the species because the animals are so elusive:
We just don't know enough about the ecology and behaviour of the pygmy hippo to be able to answer those really basic management questions. We don't really know what kind of environments they need, which areas might make them more susceptible to things, or which areas will be good when climate change comes – are we going to be protecting completely defunct areas that are useless as pygmy hippo habitat?