Endangered pygmy hogs to be reintroduced in Garumara forest
Kolkata (PTI): The endangered pygmy hogs, once found plenty in the forests of India, Nepal and Britain, are set to once again roam in the Garumara forest of north Bengal.
The state forest department is working on a plan to reintroduce the animals in the national park, additional principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife wing) P K Roy says.
The pygmy hog (Sus Salvanius) was once found in great numbers in Nepal, Britain and India, but is now restricted to north-west Assam only. Around 100-150 pygmy hogs are found in the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary and Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary.
Mr. Roy said the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest had approved the project and the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), Kolkata, had been engaged to conduct a feasibility study for the reintroduction of the species into the Garumara forest.
ZSI experts, including Asok Kanti Sanyal, assistant director, and Joy Krishna Dey, deputy director, will conduct the survey.
Mr. Roy said the reintroduction exercise would take three years to complete and cost an estimated Rs 30 lakh.
Mr. Roy said the ZSI experts would first study the pygmy hogs in their breeding centres at Baisistya near Guwahati before releasing a few pairs of them in the Garumara forest under proper supervision.
"If they get a proper environment there is every possibility they will be bred in the Garumara forest," Mr. Roy said.
The animals, which are about 21 to 28 inches long, weigh about 8.5 kg, dig up nests amidst dense grasses and feed on roots, tubers, insects and other invertebrates. They move in small groups of about four to five comprising an adult female and juveniles.
Asked what caused the decline in the pygmy hog population, the chief conservator of forest (North Bengal), S Patel, said, "This has resulted from the modification and elimination of its limited habitats by human settlements and agricultural encroachment. These factors have affected the eco-system of the Garumara National Park too."
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