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Report suggests Orang home for pygmy hog - Conservation efforts on the endangered species in Sonai-Rupai wildlife sanctuary show good results

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  • Published 24.02.11

Guwahati, Feb. 23: After Sonai-Rupai wildlife sanctuary, the next home of the pygmy hog could well be the Orang National Park — dubbed “miniature Kaziranga”.

“Orang could be the next home of pygmy hog. A feasibility report is being prepared for examination of the site,” principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) Suresh Chand told The Telegraph.

The report, being prepared by Orang National Park authorities, will be given to the forest department.

The pygmy hog (Porcula salvania) is the world’s rarest wild hog and most threatened by extinction.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in fact, has categorised the pygmy hog as “critically endangered”.

A total of 35 hogs were released in three years, from 2008-10, at the Gelgeli grasslands of Sonai-Rupai wildlife sanctuary, of which two-thirds have survived well, ground surveys and camera trapping have confirmed.

“The programme at Sonai-Rupai has worked well and there have been newborns. They are dispersing to new areas,” Gautam Narayan, project director Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme, said.

The frontline staff of the wildlife sanctuary are trained in wildlife monitoring and habitat management under a Darwin Initiative training course conducted in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London.

The conservation programme is a collaborative project between Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, IUCN/SSC Pigs Peccaries and Hippos Specialist Group, Assam forest department and ministry of environment and forests.

The IUCN in its report on Global Re-introduction Perspectives: 2010 said the released hogs have survived and adapted to the wild conditions, begun to breed and disperse.

“Monitoring, using direct and indirect methods, indicate survival of a large proportion of the released hogs, and provide evidence of increase in their population and dispersal to available habitat,” it added.

Narayan said pygmy hogs could now be released at Orang only after permission from the forest department.

A source said the northern area of the park was suitable for releasing the hogs and at least 10-12 can be released.

The programme authorities are also planning to insert radio implants on the pygmy hogs for better monitoring.

“We had put radio collars for monitoring but there were problems in that. If they were fitted too tightly they were prone to causing serious skin lesions. Therefore, there is a proposal to secure radio implants which would be fitted inside the animal,” a source said.

Weighing 8kg to 10kg and standing at 12 inches high, the pygmy hog lives in tall dense grasslands and feeds on roots, tubers and other vegetables as well as insects.

The main threats to survival of pygmy hog are loss and degradation of habitat because of human settlements, agricultural encroachments, dry-season burning, livestock grazing, commercial forestry and flood control schemes.

The IUCN report said the pygmy hog conservation project has been a highly successful conservation breeding project.

“It takes years, if not decades, of persistent efforts to implement a successful recovery programme,” it added.