In Brief

Critically Endangered Pygmy Hogs Slowly Re-Introduced to Wild

A pygmy hog.
A female pygmy hog (Porcula salvania). (Image credit: Goutam Naryan / IUCN)

Researchers are breeding and releasing critically endangered pygmy hogs into the wilds of northeast India. However, these small pigs require a bit of hoof-holding, so to speak, and are being released into the wild bit-by-bit, gradually nudged toward self-sufficiency.

The animals are incredibly shy and live only in the foothills of the Brahmaputra valley, where their home is covered in 6.5-foot-tall (2 meter) elephant grass. There are thought to be fewer than 250 adults left in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

After being bred hundreds of miles away, the animals are taken to the Brahmaputra valley each spring and placed in large pens that approximate natural conditions. The breeders then act a bit like hog school marms for the species, Porcula salvania.  "The process takes place in a gradual, phased approach allowing the hogs opportunities to learn to feed and forage, to defend themselves from predators and acquire general survival skills while socializing with other members of the group." No hogging, guys!

Finally they are released, and their numbers monitored by camera traps and hidden observing posts.

Read more at the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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Douglas Main
Douglas Main loves the weird and wonderful world of science, digging into amazing Planet Earth discoveries and wacky animal findings (from marsupials mating themselves to death to zombie worms to tear-drinking butterflies) for Live Science. Follow Doug on Google+.