The greyish brown pygmy hog ( Porcula salvania ), with its sparse hair and a streamlined body that is about the size of a cat’s, is the smallest wild pig in the world, and also one of its rarest, appearing on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list as endangered. Named after the sal grasslands where they were first found, they once thrived in the lush plains of the sub Himalayas from Nepal to Uttar Pradesh. But today, there are thought to be less than 300 in the wild, in Assam, India . The pygmy hog’s habitat has increasingly come under pressure from human encroachment, overgrazing and the clearing of land for agriculture. “The pygmy hog is the first to disappear when the habitat changes, unlike its cousin the wild boar which adapts well to changes in its environment,” says Dr Goutam Narayan, project adviser at the Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme (PHCP). “Though we tend to focus on conservation of habitats for large iconic animals like the rhino, small animals like the pygmy hog are great barometers of habitat, and we should manage these eco-sensitive animals better. They draw our attention to even minute changes in […]

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