Assam: 18 more pygmy hogs return to Manas National Park
A total of 18 captive-bred pygmy hogs have been released in the sprawling Manas National Park of Assam, India, by the Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme (PHCP), on Saturday.
MANAS: A total of 18 captive-bred pygmy hogs have been released in the sprawling Manas National Park of Assam, India, by the Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme (PHCP), on Saturday.
This is for the fourth time pygmy hogs have been reintroduced to Manas Park by the PHCP after successful releases in 2022, 2021 and 2020. This has now taken the total number of this critically endangered species released at this site up to 54, meaning the PHCP is well on its way to meet its target of 60 hogs released in Manas Park by 2025.
The programme, which is made up of founding partner Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, along with the IUCN/SSC Wild Pig Specialist Group, Assam Forest Department, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, and Ecosystems-India, with Aaranyak as delivery partner, has been working to bring this precious species back from the brink after it was previously thought to be extinct in the 1970s.
The PHCP has so far successfully bred and reintroduced 170 hogs in Assam, India, which, for the first time since the reintroduction programme began, may now be outnumbered by their current global wild population.
The Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme (PHCP) started its work in 1996, where two males and two females were captured from the Bansbari range of Manas National Park. The reintroduction of captive bred hogs to the wild began in 2008. Prior to releases in Manas National Park, the PHCP selected other appropriate grasslands in Assam for reintroductions of the pygmy hog. One site, Orang National Park, is located approximately 120km southeast of Manas, on the north riverside of the Brahmaputra River. The park is approximately 80 km2 and supports grassland, woodland and ‘mosaic’ habitat types, as well as charismatic species such as the tiger, elephant and rhino.
Fifty-nine pygmy hogs were released in Orang between 2011 and 2015. The reintroductions in Orang have been particularly successful as the population is now estimated to be 130 hogs. This is made even more exciting as the lifespan of a pygmy hog in the wild is around 7 years, so this population is likely to be made up of entirely wild born hogs.
Pygmy hogs are extremely shy and secretive in the wild, remain hidden in tall dense grass and rarely emerge in the open, which has made monitoring them at the reintroduction site in Orang National Park a challenge.
The PHCP team of conservationists have worked through this by employing camera traps and undertaking sign surveys, where the team look for pygmy hog pellets, nests, foraging marks, and footprints. The pygmy hogs have been seen up to 2km away from the nearest release site, showing a healthy dispersal and exploration of the site by reintroduced and wild-born individuals, stated a press release.