Pygmy hogs in India are in peril because of African swine fever outbreak

Pygmy hog in Assam

Pygmy hogs are the world’s rarest wild pigs. They are also the world’s smallest and they’ve been placed under a virus lockdown in Assam, India due to a very serious swine fever outbreak. The entire population of pygmy hogs could be wiped out. The 25 cm-tall pygmy hog has been brought back from the brink of extinction. There are 300 in Assam where they are bred. These centres have put up fences and staff must shower on arrival.

Pygmy hog in Assam

Pygmy hog in Assam. Photo: Wikipedia Commons.

An official of Assam state’s animal husbandry wing, Pradip Gogoi, said that there is no vaccine or cure for African swine flu. The authorities say that the swine fever outbreak arrived in India in May. Since then, about 16,000 domestic pigs have died of this virus.

Experts say that a vaccine is in the making but it is up to 3 years away.

Pygmy hogs

The pygmy hog (scientific name Porcula salvania) is native to the alluvial grasslands in the foothills of the Himalayas up to an elevation of almost 1000 feet. The only known population lives in southern Bhutan and in Assam, India. They are listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List as I’m told that there are less 250 mature individuals. I presume that this is in the wild. They weigh between 6.6 kg and 11.8 kg (15 pounds to 26 pounds). Pygmy hogs were exhibited in zoos in the 19th century. None of the captive animals survived. All the females at Zurich zoo exhibited between 1976 and 1978 died.

Assam

Assam is in the northeast of India, on the Chinese border. There have been skirmishes there between Indian and Chinese soldiers.

Assam map

Assam map. Source: Wikipedia Commons.