The Telegraph
Friday , May 12 , 2017

Assam's 'underhogs' in New York film fest

- Documentary by Durrell trust on tiny pig

Pygmy hogs at Bornadi Wildlife Sanctuary. Picture by Craig Jones

Guwahati, May 11: The first documentary film on the critically endangered pygmy hog, found only in Assam, will be screened at a wildlife film festival in New York in October.

The 45-minute documentary, Durrell's Underhogs, directed by Daniel Crevan, is the first documentary on the species, which will be screened at The Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York from October 19-26.

Crevan, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust's volunteer manager, told The Telegraph that the film, which was shot last year in India, tells the story of how the pygmy hog - the smallest pig in the world - once thought to be extinct, is making a comeback with the help of conservationists and supporters of the trust.

Altogether 100 pygmy hogs have been released into the wild in Assam under the Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme - a collaborative programme of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, IUCN Wild Pig Specialist Group, state forest department and the ministry of forest and environment and Eco Systems, India, an NGO.

"This is the first ever documentary focusing on the pygmy hog and the efforts to save it from extinction. Durrell's film team is delighted that the film has been selected for the film fest in New York, which will help the smallest pig in the world get noticed on the international stage," Crevan said.

When asked why the film is called Underhogs, Crevan said he thought this was appropriate as this little creature really does have to fight the odds to survive. "These nest-building bullet-shaped mini pigs struggle to survive alongside the big fauna like tigers, rhinos and elephants that share its habitat and hog the limelight. What is great is that today this underhog is fighting back and we are able to breed them and return sustainable viable population of this sensitive species back into the wild it once roamed," he said.

He said an interesting fact that helped him believe that this story was more than just filming a pygmy hog related to Gerald Durrell and his family all being born in India. This project, in Assam, represents the legacy of Gerald Durrell's conservation mission on saving species from extinction in India. The documentary also speaks about the crucial role played by Goutam Narayan and Parag Deka in Assam. "Without the tireless work of Goutam and Parag, this species might already have been lost. Their dedication, skill and expertise in conservation has continued the work of the late William Oliver and Gerald Durrell, giving this species a chance of survival today. They are both unassuming and modest heroes who love and believe in the work they are doing. India must be very proud to have such giants of conservation working to save the world's smallest pigs," he said.

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