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These little piggies are going all the way home… to the wild

Twelve pygmy hogs (Porcu salvania), the smallest species of pig, were released into the wild in northeast India last week as a part of the Pygmy Hog Conservation Program that aims to save these rare pigs from near extinction.

When they reach adulthood, these tiny pigs stand at ten inches tall and weigh about 20 pounds—but don’t let their size fool you; pygmy hogs aren’t picky at all and will eat everything from roots and insects to small rodents.

In the 1960s, pygmy hogs were thought to be extinct due to an expansion of agriculture in the pig’s native habitat in northern India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Fortunately, the species managed to survive, but by the 1990s, they could only be found in a few stretches of Manas National Park in the Indian state of Assam. Currently, their population in the wild is estimated to be only around 250, making them one of the rarest pigs in the world.

The Pygmy Hog Conservation Program was established in 1996. It breeds pygmy pigs in captivity with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. Dhritiman Das, the field scientist for the program, says that “this time, [they] are releasing 12 pygmy hogs including seven male and five female,” but the hope is to release 60 hogs over the next four years, “so that they can build their own population in the wild.”

So far, 142 pigs have been reintroduced to their native habitat, which will greatly improve the pigs’ condition, however releasing pigs back into the wild is just one part of the problem. There is still the ongoing issue of habitat loss, which needs improvement if pygmy hogs are to become self-sustaining in the wild once more.

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