Click on images for larger versions
Pygmy Hog (Porcula salvania
[prev.: Sus salvanius]), Family Suidae
Credit & Copyright: Dr. Bruce G. Marcot
Explanation: Sometimes big conservation successes come in small packages.
Say hello to the diminutive pygmy hog, once thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 1971 and saved by captive breeding.
We are at the Pygmy Hog Conservation Centre in Assam, northeast India.
Pygmy hogs are the rarest and smallest wild pig in the world, and is still gravely threatened with only a few fragmented and isolated populations known in the "duars" wetlands along the base of the eastern Himalayan Mountains. Once, it ranged widely along the "terai" wetlands in northern and northeast India and Nepal.
How small are pygmy hogs? The larger males weigh in at a mere 8-9 kg (18-20 pounds), and newborns are a featherweight 150-200 grams (0.3-0.4 pounds). Adults "tower" only 25 cm (10 inches) in height!
The entire species is threatened by poaching, and by habitat loss from human encroachment, agricultural conversion, and draining of their wetland habitat.
Pygmy hogs are important ecologically. As the above three photos illustrate, as small as pygmy hogs are, they may play key roles when they dig for tubers and other foods. As they dig, they turn over soil, incorporating organic material and making the soil more friable to support establishment of native plants and habitat for soil invertebrates that support the food chain.
Here is a pygmy hog nest, in one of the breeding compounds in the conservation center.
They are probably the only wild pig in the world that makes such nests for sleeping at night.
With due care for habitat conservation and restoration, protection from poaching, and continued captive propagation and release back into the wild, the future for this most unique and amazing species is looking brighter.
Next week's picture: What Hippos Do
< Previous ... | Archive | Index | Location | Search | About EPOW | ... Next >
Author & Webmaster: Dr.
Bruce G. Marcot, Tom Bruce
Disclaimers and Legal Statements
Original material on Ecology Picture of the Week © Bruce G. Marcot
Member Theme of Taos-Telecommunity