Giant Forest Hog, Hylochoerus meinertzhageni
The giant forest hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni) is the only member in its genus and is native to Africa. It can be found in west and central Africa, in areas like the Rwenzori Mountains and as far east as Mount Kenya and the Ethiopian Highlands. However, it is mainly restricted to the Guinean and Congolian forests. This species was only classified in 1904, and was named after the man who sent the type specimen to the Natural History Museum in England, Richard Meinertzhagen.
The giant forest hog prefers to reside in forested areas, but have also been found in woodland areas at elevations of up to 12,500 feet. They cannot live in dry, sunny areas, so they are found mainly in covered areas.
Male giant forest hogs can grow to be 6.9 feet in length, and can weigh up to 610 pounds. Female giant forest hogs are smaller. The long, dark hairs of this hog will vanish as the hog ages. The longer hairs are dark or black, while the smaller hairs closer to the skin are orange in color. Its ears are large and pointed, and the tusks, though proportionately smaller than those of a warthog, can grow to be up to fourteen feet in length.
The giant forest hog will live in large groups of up to twenty individuals, consisting mainly of females and their young, although there is often an old male in the group. The giant forest hog is mainly an herbivore, although they have been known to scavenge. These hogs are nocturnal, except in cold seasons where they will be more active during the day. In some areas, where they are secluded from humans, these hogs are diurnal or active during the day. Before a female gives birth, she will leave the herd and return once the piglets are born. The young are able to nurse from any female within the group, and are protected by every member.
Like all other members of the Suidae family in Africa, the giant forest hog has not been domesticated, although it shows promise to be in the future. They are feared in the wild more than bush pigs and the red river hog, because males will attack without provocation. This is thought to occur because the male wishes to protect its herd. Spotted hyenas have been driven from carcasses by male giant forest hogs, and confrontations between males often result in death. The conservation status of the giant forest hog is of “Least Concern”.
Image Caption: Giant Forest Hog, Hylochoerus meinertzhageni at Uganda Wildlife Education Centre. Credit: michell zappa/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 2.0)