Pygmy hogs back in Bornadi after 1993

The critically endangered pygmy hog - the rarest and smallest wild pig in the world - made a comeback at Bornadi wildlife sanctuary in Udalguri district.

By Roopak Goswami in Guwahati
  • Published 26.05.16
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A pygmy hog at Bornadi. Picture courtesy: Daniel Craven of Durrell Wildlife

Guwahati, May 25: The critically endangered pygmy hog - the rarest and smallest wild pig in the world - made a comeback at Bornadi wildlife sanctuary in Udalguri district.

The hogs were last seen in the wildlife sanctuary in 1993.

With the release of six pygmy hogs at Bornadi yesterday, about 100 hogs have now been released in the wilds in Assam. Of the six hogs, there are three females and three males. Four of them are a year old, one of two years and one of three years.

"It is a milestone in the conservation of pygmy hog and with the release of the six, the number of hogs released will now be 100 in Assam," Gautam Narayan, project director of the Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme (PHCP), told The Telegraph.

The PHCP is a collaborative programme of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, IUCN Wild Pig Specialist Group, state forest department, ministry of forest and implemented by EcoSystems-India.

The hogs, which have been brought from Nameri, will be monitored through radio telemetry, camera traps and tracking them through field signs. The original and a small population of pygmy hogs was found in the wilds at Manas National Park only in the world and were re-introduced at Sonai Rupai wildlife sanctuary and Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park later. The captive populations are at Basistha (Guwahati) and Potasali (Nameri) and at the Assam state zoo.

The IUCN Red List categorises the species as "critically endangered" putting it among the most threatened of all mammals. It is also listed in the Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act.

"The habitat is improving at Bornadi wildlife sanctuary and with help of the forest department we are removing the invasive species," he said.

The pygmy hog is a unique member of the wild pig family. Adult males are about 10-inch tall weighing 8-9kg and live in small groups of up to eight and sleep in grass nests round the year.

Narayan said the pygmy hog acts as a barometer for the health of the grassland and managing these wet grasslands will benefit all other species of the habitat.

The survival of pygmy hogs is closely linked to the existence of the tall, wet grasslands of the region which, besides being a highly-threatened habitat itself, is also crucial for survival of endangered species such as the greater one-horned rhinoceros ( Rhinoceros unicornis), tiger (Panthera tigris), eastern barasingha ( Rucervus duvaucelii ranjitsinhi), water buffalo (Bubalus arnee), hispid hare ( Caprolagus hispidus) and Bengal florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis).