KALAIGAON, May 23 - It was a historic day in Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary on May 21 when six pygmy hogs (three males and three females) were formally released at the WLS after 20 long years.
Dr Gautam Narayan of the Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme formally handed over the most threatened animal species in the world to R Mushahary, Secretary, Forest, BTC in the presence of Hiranya Kumar Sarma, Field Director, Manas National Park; Madhurjya Kumar Sarma, DFO, Dhansiri Forest Division, Udalguri; Dr Paragjyoti Das of PHCP; Craig Jones, Bex Bonea and Daniel Craven of Durrell Wildlife, Channel Islands, Jersey.
Pygmy hog is the world�s smallest and rarest animal species which can hardly be seen in the wild. Once pygmy hogs were common along the foothills of the Himalayas in India, Nepal and Bhutan.
Pygmy hog featured in the first IUCN /WWF (1984) list of the 12 most threatened animal species in the world. The population in Barnadi WLS was believed to have been lost by 1981 due to massive destruction of forest cover, burning and unauthorised human settlement etc. A small number was rediscovered in 1990. But no pygmy hog has been reported there since 1994.
IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) classified it as critically endangered in 1995. Organisations like Durrel Wildlife Conservation Trust of Jersey in Channel Islands, Assam Forest Department, Indian Government-initiated PHCP (Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme) took initiative for its captive breeding. Accordingly, six pygmy hogs were captured in Manas NP in 1996, taken to Basistha, Guwahati and then transferred to the PHCP camp at Nameri.
According to Dr Goutam Narayan of PGCP, they have already translocated 94 pygmy hogs to various wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in Assam, including Orang NP, Sonai-Rupai etc.