Ten captive-bred pygmy hogs have been released in Manas National Park in Assam by the Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme (PHCP) on June 8 and June 10, officials said.
This is the third time pygmy hogs, the world’s smallest and rarest wild pig most threatened by extinction, have been reintroduced in Manas after the successful release of 14 in 2020 and 12 in 2021.
The PHCP plans to release 60 pygmy hogs in Manas by 2025.
Manas field director Vaibhav Chandra Mathur said that the pygmy hog species which has been recovered from the verge of extinction in the wild.
With the tiger reserve serving as the source stock of hogs for the PHCP, this tranche of supplementation with a captive bred population is going to strengthen conservation efforts especially for tall wet grasslands, for which the pygmy hog serves as an indicator species, he said.
Mathur said that at the same time, this is an opportunity to develop scientifically and statistically robust monitoring protocols for the species, which are practically implementable in the field on a periodic basis, so that a pulse can be kept on pygmy hog numbers and their distribution status.
In 1995, the UK’s Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, partnered with the Assam Forest Department, the IUCN, Wild Pig Specialist Group, and Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate changes, to form the PHCP.
Mathur said that the iconic species now returns to their home where their last original population still survives but has considerably declined.
With this release, the number of pygmy hogs reintroduced into the wild by the PHCP has reached 152 (70 males, 82 females) which is more than their current original global wild population.