Visitors to Assam zoo can soon view endangered pygmy hogs

Will be the only one in the world to have the endangered wild pig

Published - November 11, 2014 02:59 am IST - Guwahati:

An adult pygmy hog. Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar

An adult pygmy hog. Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar

The Assam State Zoo is set to welcome a few pygmy hogs this week, making it the only zoo in the world to have the critically endangered pig.

The pygmy hog ( Porcula salvania ) is the smallest and rarest of wild pigs. The Pygmy Hog Research and Breeding Centre at Basistha will provide the pigs to the Assam zoo.

Chandan Kumar Bora, divisional forest officer, Assam State Zoo, told The Hindu that a simulated habitat has been created in an enclosure by growing Barenga grass collected from Orang National Park and staff have received training in care for the hogs. Mr. Bora said that the zoo had some pygmy hogs for public viewing from around 1970 till around 1990. Now, after a gap of almost 25 years, visitors would be able to see the pigs beginning November 15.

“It will be only zoo across the world to have pygmy hogs. As sighting of pygmy hogs in the wild is rare, the zoo will provide an opportunity for public viewing of this critically endangered mammal. Gradually, the zoo will also serve as a captive breeding centre,” added Mr. Bora.

Goutam Narayan, project director of the pygmy hog conservation programme (PHCP), said “The pygmy hog is at the brink of extinction, as it has been exterminated from most of its original range in India and Nepal.

“In the past, it was found in a narrow strip of tall and wet grassland plains in the area south of the Himalayan foothills from Uttar Pradesh to Assam, through Nepal terai and Bengal duars. Currently, it is restricted to a single viable population in the wild in Manas Tiger Reserve and a couple of reintroduced populations in Sonai Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary and Orang National Park, all in northwestern Assam.”

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