18 captive-bred pygmy hogs released in Assam's Manas National Park

PTI | Guwahati | Updated: 30-09-2023 23:57 IST | Created: 30-09-2023 23:57 IST
18 captive-bred pygmy hogs released in Assam's Manas National Park
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Eighteen captive-bred pygmy hogs, the world's smallest and rarest wild pigs, were released in Assam's Manas National Park on Saturday, taking the total number of this critically endangered species to 54 in the habitat, officials said.

A total of 12 females and six males were released under the Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme (PHCP) in the Rupahi grasslands of Bhuyanpara range, they said.

This the fourth time that pygmy hogs have been reintroduced in the Manas National Park since 2020, and now the PHCP's target of releasing 60 of these animals by 2025 is likely to be achieved, its project director Parag Jyoti Deka said.

Earlier in 2020, 14 captive-bred pygmy hogs were released in the park, 12 in 2021 and 10 in 2022.

For the pygmy hogs released on Saturday, the PHCP will be engaging not only camera traps and sign surveys, but also carry out a fourth year of radio-telemetry tracking on eight of them, which will provide critical data about their behaviour after release and the habitat use of reintroduced hogs.

The PHCP has been working to bring the species back from the brink after it was previously thought to be extinct in the 1970s, and has so far successfully bred and reintroduced 170 hogs in Assam, Deka said.

Manas National Park's Field Director Rajen Choudhury said the release of the pygmy hogs will boost the rewilding of Manas' grasslands and also bring back its glory.

The park authorities are investing more in scientific management of the grasslands, and hopefully it will help in securing the future of the reintroduced pygmy hogs, he said. The pygmy hog is extremely shy and secretive in the wild, remains hidden in tall dense grass and rarely emerges in the open, which has made monitoring them at the reintroduction site a challenge, the officials said.

As a part of its rewilding strategy, the PHCP will continue to maintain about 80 captive hogs at its two centers in Assam and breed more for release in the wild, they added.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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