The Pygmy Hog is the smallest, rarest and most highly specialized member of the pig family. It was formerly known to occur across a narrow strip of early successional tall grassland plains along the southern Himalayan foothills in the Indian subcontinent. Although it was described from north Bengal in 1847, all recent reports refer only to N.W. Assam where the species was ‘rediscovered’ in 1971 after it was long suspected to have become extinct. By the time the recovery programme was launched in 1995, the species was reduced to a single declining wild population of a few hundred hogs in the Manas National Park, with no individual in captivity anywhere in the world.
The reasons for pygmy hog’s disappearance were largely related to extensive destruction and degradation of grassland habitat due to rapid expansion of human settlements and farming activities. A few pockets of suitable grassland still exist in some Protected Areas but most of them are currently threatened due to one or more of the following reasons: (i) unsustainable livestock grazing; (ii) indiscriminate dry season burning of grass; (iii) unsustainable thatch grass and minor forest produce collection; (iv) flash floods caused by natural or artificial dams; (v) illegal trapping or snaring for bush meat. All these problems except flash floods are caused by unscientific habitat management or lack of adequate protection.