Hippos are classified as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Unregulated hunting for their meat, skin, and teeth, combined with shrinking habitats and increased hippo-human conflict have lead to a decline in populations across Africa. At the current rates, the species could disappear within a century.
Most elephant populations are listed under the highest level (Appendix I) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), but hippos are listed under Appendix II, meaning some trade is possible.
A new study says that a rise in demand for hippos’ teeth is threatening the mammal with extinction. Hippo teeth are easier to smuggle than elephant tusks. Additionally, they are not protected especially well at either a national or international level. The problems here are that not only is it impossible to guarantee that a hippo tooth is legally sourced but that overall quotas are often massively exceeded. We have created a situation where “some” hippos can be shot, but we have few effective ways to regulate the trade, leaving it wide open to abuse.