08 May, 2021

That Gleeful Snuffle In The Grass

The pygmy hog was nearly extinct. But with a few committed humans, its fight for survival is on.

That Gleeful Snuffle In The Grass
They’ve got no squiggly tails, they’ve won no formidable fame like other wild pigs. They’re just plain-looking pigs, rarely seen, even in the wild. Yet, Dr Goutam Narayan has dedicated himself to saving the pygmy hog, the smallest and rarest suid (wild pig) in the world. Standing just 12 inches off the ground, this petite pig was once found throughout the wet riverine grasslands that stretched from Uttar Pradesh to the Northeast. And then later thought to have been extinct. Until it was rediscovered in 1971. Today, with only a few 100 left in the wild, this hog’s future is doomed once again. It’s listed as "critically endangered" by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

All hope is focused on the Pygmy Hog Conservation Breeding Programme, initiated by Narayan just outside Guwahati in Assam. Created in 1996 with six wild hogs, today it has 74 of them residing in its recreated grasslands, housed in family groups. Human habituation is kept to the minimum. And all efforts are made to duplicate nature; their food of succulents, tubers and grasses is hidden—so they can...

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