Pygmy Hog

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According to an article in the journal Science, African Swine Fever (ASF), the livestock illness that has decimated porcine populations across Asia since its advent in China in 2018, could deal a lethal blow to the pygmy hog.

About Pygmy Hog: 

  • It is the smallest and rarest species of wild pig in the world.
  • It is one of the very few mammals that build its own home, or nest, complete with a ‘roof’.
  • It is an indicator species as its presence reflects the health of its primary habitat, tall and wet grasslands.
  • Habitat: It prefers undisturbed patches of grassland dominated by early successional riverine communities, typically comprising dense tall grass intermixed with a wide variety of herbs, shrubs and young trees.
  • Currently, the viable population of this pig in the wild is in the Manas Tiger Reserve in Assam.
  • Conservation status:
    • IUCN Red List: Endangered
    • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Schedule I

Key facts about African swine fever

  • It is a highly contagious viral disease of domestic and wild pigs, whose mortality rate can reach 100%.
  • The virus belongs to the Asfarviridae family.
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, Diarrhea, reddening or darkening of the skin, particularly ears and snout, gummed up eyes etc.
  • It can be spread through:
    • Direct contact with infected pigs, faeces or body fluid
    • Indirect contact via fomites such as equipment, vehicles or people who work with pigs between pig farms with ineffective biosecurity.
    • Pigs eating infected pig meat or meat products.
  • It is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa but has spread to many other regions of the world, including Asia and Europe.
  • It is not known to affect human beings. 
  • There is no cure or precaution available for the infection and no approved vaccine. 


 Q1) What are Indicator Species?

Indicator species are species of organisms that can provide information about the overall health and condition of an ecosystem. These species are often sensitive to changes in environmental conditions, such as pollution, habitat loss, or climate change.

Source: African Swine Fever threatens India’s Pygmy Hog, other Asian wild pig species: ‘Science’ article