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Hippopotamus greatly reduced

The hippo is one of Africa’s most famous wild animals. However, poaching, trophy hunting, climate change and habitat destruction have contributed to these majestic animals being listed as threatened or even critically endangered on the International Red List (IUCN). Today, hippos are found exclusively in southern Africa, south of the Sahara. Here, about 130,000 greater hippos and about 2,500 lesser hippos live in the wild.

Human encroachment in the northern part of the Okavango Delta and climate change are resulting in changes in weather and rainfall patterns that can lead to more severe storms and prolonged periods of drought. When rivers or lakes dry up as a result of prolonged drought, humans and all animals are forced to go without water. This poses a great danger to hippos in particular, as they can get stuck in the dried-up waters and suffer heatstroke because they cannot sweat to cool down.

„Long-lasting drought has plagued Botswana for years. The necessary floods fail to materialize more and more often. Once huge waterholes shrink to puddles. Without our intervention, they become death traps for hundreds of hippos that get stuck in the drying mud year after year.“

– Wabotlhe, Botswana SAVE-Director –

Protection status:

Population Africa
125.000 – 130.000

Bedrohung durch:
Wilderei, Trophäenjagd, Fragmentierung des Lebensraumes, Klimawandel: Anhaltende Dürreperioden

Our approach to Protection of the Hippos

To address the endangerment of hippos, we are taking two approaches:

Immediate measures & emergency management

Water supply, feeding and
transport to other water points.

Awareness raising in the communities

Education for Conservation - Environmental Education: The Value of Hippos in the Okavango Delta Ecosystem

SAVE as the contact person on site: Please advise if there are any further threats to the hippos

Here SAVE works to protect the hippos

The Okavango Delta in Botswana is a freshwater wetland that is constantly changing due to its location in a complex landscape. In the western part of the lower Okavango Delta lies Lake Ngami (Lake Ngami). It is an important indicator of environmental change and climate variability in the basin due to its lack of natural drainage. Surrounding communities and wildlife rely on the lake as an important resource. It is used for commercial and subsistence fishing and also supports livestock when water levels are high enough. The lake’s water level was exceptionally low during the historic drought of 2019. The lake disappeared completely at the end of 2019 and remained empty until the end of 2021.


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SAVE – Hippo Conservation PROGRAM

Hippo Emergency Management

A drought in 2019 - the worst in over 50 years - caused extreme dryness in Botswana. Since February 2019, no fresh water reached the region - with far-reaching consequences for humans, but especially for hippos: they were trapped in the Nxaichaa Lagoon in Nxaraga. Due to the persistent drought, the hippos got stuck, some of them died of thirst and died. SAVE wanted to counteract this and immediately started an SOS program to protect the hippos.

Hippo conservation through environmental education

In order to achieve a permanent protection of the hippos, SAVE pursues the approach "Education for Conservation" in addition to the rescue operations. Here we inform the communities in the so-called wildlife contact zones about the importance of animal protection and that SAVE is always available as a local contact. For example, SAVE Botswana organized a "Big Feeding Day" during the first rescue operation. Over 200 people participated and helped distribute hundreds of tons of hay for the hippos.


Hippo Conservation in Botswana: Our successes since the start of the program in 2019

Hippos saved


Reaching people with educational work


Successful rescue operations carried out

And this could be your contribution

Support our work for the hippos in Botswana. Be part of the next rescue operation or help us with financial means.

Help hippo conservation in Botswana

Further measures for the protection of hippos

Educational Programs

Education for hippo conservation

Making coexistence possible
through education.

Development work

Development work for hippo conservation

Making coexistence possible
through community outreach.