Eight of 12 captive-bred pygmy hogs, the world’s rarest and smallest wild pigs, were on June 22 released in the Manas National Park of western Assam.
- The PHCP is a collaboration among
- Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust of UK,
- Assam Forest Department,
- Wild Pig Specialist Group of International Union for Conservation of Nature
- and Union Environment Ministry
2.It is currently being implemented by NGOs Aaranyak and EcoSystems India.
3.The PHCP set up a captive-breeding programme which, with careful management from local partners, has seen the original group of six wild hogs, captured in 1996, increase to over 60 captive pygmy hogs.
4.The success of the captive breeding programme enabled the PHCP to conduct a series of releases of captive-bred animals into the wild between 2008 and 2014 at two identified release sites.
5.The reintroduction programme began in 2008 with the Sonai-Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary (35 hogs), Orang National Park (59) and Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary (22).
6.With Tuesday’s release, the number of pygmy hogs reintroduced into the wild under the PHCP reached 142, which is more than their current original global wild population.
7.By 2025, the PHCP plans to release 60 pygmy hogs in Manas.
- The pygmy hog (Porcula salvania) is a native to alluvial grasslands in the foothills of the Himalayas at elevations of up to 300 m (980 ft).
- Pygmy hog is an omnivore. It feeds on root, tubers, seed, fruit, grass, insects, eggs and small reptiles. Unlike other species of pigs, pygmy hog digs shallow depressions in the ground and covers them with grass.
- Intense deforestation and habitat destruction due to accelerated development of agriculture, overgrazing and fires, led to drastic reduction in the number of pygmy hogs in the wild.
- Pygmy hog has narrow, pointed head, streamlined body and short legs. Males have tusks that protrude from the mouth and long hair above the upper lip. They also have dark-colored crest-like hair on their forehead and neck.
- Today, the only known population lives in Assam, India and possibly southern Bhutan.
- As the population is estimated at less than 250 mature individuals, it is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
- It is designated as a Schedule I species in India under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and offences against them invite heavy penalties.
Due to a small wild population, estimated at less than 250 individuals, and a highly restricted range, the pygmy hog is currently listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Since the rediscovery of the species in 1971, only one remaining wild population is believed to have persisted in the Manas National Park. Despite conservation efforts, the intense pressure on the grasslands in this area has led to continuing decline of this population.