Pygmy hog conservation project in Assam

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Sonai-Rupai Sanctuary (Assam) May 14 : Authorities in Assam have released a number of a critically endangered species of wild pig pygmy hog into enclosures near the wild.

In one of the landmark conservation project, around 16 such endangered mammals would be soon relocated to the grasslands of Sonai Rupai wildlife sanctuary.

"We released altogether 16 pygmy hogs into the wild, it's not exactly a release, it's an enclosure in the actual site where it is going to be releases," said M C Malakar, a specialist, Assam.

Pygmy hog, also known as Porcula Salvania is the world's smallest pig with a height of 25-30 cms.

Experts said that its preferred grassland habitat across the southern foothills of the Himalayas was gobbled up by human encroachment.

"It's a great loss of habitat, so, so population expansion, have diminished those habitats to a few isolated fragments and those isolated fragments are susceptible to other forms of disturbance," said William Oliver, Chairman, Pigs Peccaries and Hippos Specialist Group.

Initially the hogs will be released into enclosures before being released into the wild to acquaint them with the conditions in the wild.

These mammals have got a new lease of life with the project of Jersey's Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, which has been breeding Assam pygmy hogs in captivity for over 10 years.s a result of the successful breeding programme the number of pygmy hogs have risen to about 80.

Pigmy Hogs were found profoundly in the Manas National Park, however, prolonged militant activity in the park pushed the timid animal to the brink of extinction.These rare mammals were year ago common in Nepal, Bhutan and India.

However, by the 1960s, it was believed that the mammal is almost extinct. But in 1971, the species was rediscovered in Assam.

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