|Pygmy hog conservation receives a shot in the arm|
GUWAHATI, June 3 - In a boost to pygmy hog conservation, Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary located in Udalguri and Baksa districts near the Assam-Bhutan border received six more critically-endangered pygmy hogs on Saturday, taking the total of such releases into the sanctuary to 22.
The release was carried out as part of the ongoing Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme (PHCP), which is an attempt to save the species and its habitat as part of a collaborative project of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, IUCN/SSC Wild Pig Specialist Group, Assam Forest Department and the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change with EcoSystems-India and Aaranyak as local partners.
“Before their release into the wild, the hogs were taught to survive independently at a pre-release facility at Potasali in Nameri Tiger Reserve. The released hogs are monitored by using field signs (nests, forage marks, footprints and droppings) and sometimes, camera traps,” an Aaranyak spokesperson said.
Camera trap study at Orang National Park and sign survey revealed that the reintroduced population has been breeding and expanding. Surveys are being carried out to identify and restore other protected grassland species for reintroduction, he added.
The major activities of this programme include conservation breeding and reintroduction of pygmy hogs after habitat restoration. In 1996, six wild pygmy hogs were captured from Manas National Park and brought to the Research & Breeding Centre located at Basistha in Guwahati.
At present, PHCP maintains a captive population of about 60 pygmy hogs. So far, PHCP has reintroduced 116 hogs over 11 years in Sonai Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary, Orang National Park and Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary.
PHCP also conducts grassland research to find out how best to manage these habitats and conducts awareness generation and capacity building among local communities and frontline protection staff for proper conservation of these threatened grasslands.