Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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Observations: Little is known about the longevity of these animals. They have been reported to live up to 18 years (Ronald Nowak 1999). Further studies in captivity are necessary, however, and maximum longevity could be underestimated.
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Behavior

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Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical

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Lundrigan, B. and J. Bidlingmeyer 2000. "Hylochoerus meinertzhageni" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hylochoerus_meinertzhageni.html
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Conservation Status

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The forest hog is rated 3-4 by IUCN. This means that it has a restricted distribution, is threatened by habitat destruction, hunting pressure or other ecological pressure, however populations are not declining. The subspecies Hylochoerus mienertzhagheni mienertzhagheni has the smallest range, but appears to be relatively secure (Oliver 1993).

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Lundrigan, B. and J. Bidlingmeyer 2000. "Hylochoerus meinertzhageni" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hylochoerus_meinertzhageni.html
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Benefits

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The forest hog is a symptomless carrier of African Swine Fever (ASF), which is lethal to domestic pigs. This disease is transmitted by a tick called the tampan. These suids also can carry the trypanosomes for sleeping sickness (ngana) that is transmitted by the tse-tse fly to livestock and humans. They also transmit rinderpest and are responsible for significant crop damage (Macdonald 1995, d'Huart 1993).

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Lundrigan, B. and J. Bidlingmeyer 2000. "Hylochoerus meinertzhageni" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hylochoerus_meinertzhageni.html
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Benefits

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The forest hog is an easy target for hunting, and although among some peoples of the Congo, the eating of H. mienertzhageni is considered to cause calamity, the species is hunted in much of its range, not only for subsistence, but for commercial meat markets. There is also some trade for the ivory of its tusks, and hides were sometimes used for leather.

Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material

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Lundrigan, B. and J. Bidlingmeyer 2000. "Hylochoerus meinertzhageni" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hylochoerus_meinertzhageni.html
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Trophic Strategy

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Herbivore: The forest hog is unable to root like other Suidae, but it can dig quite well with its tusks for roots and minerals. Otherwise, the forest hog grazes on grasses, sedges and herbage. Sometimes, these suids will ingest carrion or eggs. They also practice coprophagy (Estes 1991, d'Huart 1993).

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Lundrigan, B. and J. Bidlingmeyer 2000. "Hylochoerus meinertzhageni" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hylochoerus_meinertzhageni.html
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Distribution

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Forest hogs are found in Africa, mainly in the equatorial forests and grasslands west, west of the Rift Valley. There are a few scattered small populations northeast of Lake Victoria, and several scattered larger populations from Nigeria to Senegal. There are three recognized subspecies, each with distinct ranges. The forest hog H. m. ivoriensis inhabits the area near the Ivory Coast, H. m. rimator lives in two areas near the west and central equatorial zone and coexists in the east equatorial zone with H. m. mienertzhagheni, the "true" giant forest hog. A potential fourth subspecies exists to the north of H. m. mienertzhagheni.

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

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Lundrigan, B. and J. Bidlingmeyer 2000. "Hylochoerus meinertzhageni" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hylochoerus_meinertzhageni.html
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Habitat

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The giant forest hog prefers the dense shade of thickets and bushes. This suid ranges through a variety of forest types, including dry forests; humid, lowland forests; and montane forests (up to 3,800 m). H. meinertzhageni is most common near permanent water sources, especially where there is a thick understory cover. However, it does venture out into clearings and grasslands to feed.

Range elevation: 3800 (high) m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; scrub forest

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Lundrigan, B. and J. Bidlingmeyer 2000. "Hylochoerus meinertzhageni" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hylochoerus_meinertzhageni.html
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Life Expectancy

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Average lifespan
Status: captivity:
3.0 years.

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Lundrigan, B. and J. Bidlingmeyer 2000. "Hylochoerus meinertzhageni" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hylochoerus_meinertzhageni.html
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Morphology

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Standing approximately 1m high and 190 cm long, Hylochoerus meinertzhageni adults have a huge broad head, and males have pads of naked, inflated skin near their eyes. Both sexes have small, straight tusks that flare outward (to 30 cm) and teeth modified for grazing and browsing. The giant forest hog has large, pointed ears and bristly hair on its body and tail. Color is slate gray with some lighter hair on the face. The male's cheek pads contain scent glands, and this hog also has a preputial scent gland. Females are slightly smaller than males and have 4 mammae.

Range mass: 180 to 275 kg.

Average length: 190 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

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Lundrigan, B. and J. Bidlingmeyer 2000. "Hylochoerus meinertzhageni" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hylochoerus_meinertzhageni.html
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Reproduction

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Gestation period: 151 days

Number of young: 2-11 precocial piglets

Breeding season: February to April and August to October

Birthing: January to March and July to September

Weaning: 9 weeks

Sexual maturity: 18 months

Life span: up to 18 years, with 5 years being the average

Juveniles accompany their mother very soon after birth, but remain under cover in nests of tall grasses and branches for at least a week, walking beneath the mother while in the open. Females may disperse as yearlings while males may stay until secondary sexual characteristics have appeared (Estes 1991, d'Huart 1993).

Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual

Average birth mass: 1250 g.

Average gestation period: 132 days.

Average number of offspring: 5.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male:
517 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female:
365 days.

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Lundrigan, B. and J. Bidlingmeyer 2000. "Hylochoerus meinertzhageni" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hylochoerus_meinertzhageni.html
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Brief Summary

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The largest of the wild pig species in the world, the giant forest hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhangeni) inhabits dense forested areas and open savannahs of western and central Africa, native to several countries including (but not limited to) Cameroon, Congo, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan. However, distribution can best be described as patchy due to deforestation and agricultural cultivation of the original habitat (d’Huart and Yohannes, 1995). Tectonic activity (e.g. the Rift Valley) is partially responsible for the evolution of 3 subspecies of the forest hogs, with H. m. meinertzhangeni, found in Ethiopia, being considered the ‘true’ giant forest hog (d’Huart and Yohannes, 1995).

Males reach a shoulder height of approximately 1 m and can weigh up to 275 kg; heavier than the females by roughly 50 kg. Their diet consists of sub-canopy vegetation, such as tubers, roots and underground meristems (Cerling et al. 2004). These hogs can be found in groups or as solitary animals, leaving clearly distinguishable tunnelling systems throughout the forest undergrowth (Treves et al. 2010). With an average lifespan of 5 years in the wild, forest hogs reproduce all year. Females are sexually mature after 1.5 years of age and produce a litter of 2-4 piglets after a 3 month gestation period.

Due to its aggressive nature and territoriality it has escaped the trappings of domestication and as a bonus is rarely hunted for bush meat (although still hunted as trophies) since their flesh has an unpleasant taste (Jori and Bastos, 2009; d’Huart and Klingel, 2008). Overall, very little scientific research has been done regarding their ecology and behaviour, but they are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to their large distribution range, relatively few threats and high numbers in the wild.

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Giant forest hog

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The giant forest hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni), the only member of its genus, is native to wooded habitats in Africa and is generally considered the largest wild member of the pig family, Suidae; however, a few subspecies of the wild boar can reach an even larger size.[2] Despite its large size and relatively wide distribution, it was first described only in 1904. The specific name honours Richard Meinertzhagen, who shot the type specimen in Kenya and had it shipped to the Natural History Museum in England.[3]

Description

The giant forest hog is, on average, the largest living species of suid. Adults can measure from 1.3 to 2.1 m (4 ft 3 in to 6 ft 11 in) in head-and-body length, with an additional tail length of 25 to 45 cm (9.8 to 17.7 in). Adults stand 0.75 to 1.1 m (2 ft 6 in to 3 ft 7 in) in height at the shoulder, and can weigh from 100 to 275 kg (220 to 606 lb).[4][5][6][7][8] Females are smaller than males. Females weigh a median of approximately 167 kg (368 lb), as opposed to males, which weigh a median of 210 kg (460 lb).[9] The eastern nominate subspecies is slightly larger than H. m. rimator of Central Africa and noticeably larger than H. m. ivoriensis of West Africa,[4] with the latter sometimes being scarcely larger than related species such as the bushpig with a top recorded weight of around 150 kg (330 lb).[8] The giant forest hog has extensive hairs on its body, though these tend to become less pronounced as the animal ages. It is mostly black in colour on the surface, though hairs nearest the skin of the animal are a deep orange colour. Its ears are large and pointy, and the tusks are proportionally smaller than those of the warthogs, but bigger than those of the bushpig. Nevertheless, the tusks of a male may reach a length of 35.9 centimetres (14.1 in).[8]

Distribution

 src=
The skull of a male giant forest hog

Giant forest hogs occur in west and central Africa, where they are largely restricted to the Guinean and Congolese forests. They also occur more locally in humid highlands of the Rwenzori Mountains and as far east as Mount Kenya and the Ethiopian Highlands. They are mainly found in forest-grassland mosaics, but can also be seen in wooded savanna and subalpine habitats at altitudes up to 3,800 m (12,500 ft).[5] They are unable to cope with low humidity or prolonged exposure to the sun, resulting in them being absent from arid regions and habitats devoid of dense cover.[5]

Habits

The giant forest hog is mainly a herbivore, but also scavenges.[10] It is usually considered nocturnal, but in cold periods, it is more commonly seen during daylight hours, and it may be diurnal in regions where protected from humans.[4] They live in herds (sounders) of up to 20 animals consisting of females and their offspring, but usually also including a single old male.[4] Females leave the sounder before giving birth and return with the piglets about a week after parturition. All members of the sounder protect the piglets, and a piglet can nurse from all females.[8] Boars fight by running head on into each other, followed by head pushing and attempts to slash the opponent with their lower tusks.[11]

As all suids of Sub-Saharan Africa, the giant forest hog has not been domesticated, but it is easily tamed and has been considered to have potential for domestication.[4] In the wild, though, the giant forest hog is more feared than the red river hog and the bushpig (the two members of the genus Potamochoerus), as males sometimes attack without warning, possibly to protect their group.[4] It has also been known to drive spotted hyenas away from carcasses, and fights among males resulting in the death of one of the participants are not that uncommon.[8] Despite its size and potential for aggressive behaviour, they have been known to fall prey to leopards (probably almost exclusively large male forest leopards which are often larger than their savannah-dwelling equivalents) and clans of spotted hyenas. Although in some localities the lion may also be a predator of giant forest hogs, the species are usually segregated by habitat, as African lions do not generally occur in the densely forested habitats inhabited by this suid.[12][13]

In popular culture

In the Thomas Harris novel Hannibal, Mason Verger has procured a herd of giant forest hogs to which he intends on feeding Hannibal Lecter to. While giant forest hogs are named in the Hannibal (2001 film), the animals shown are instead Russian boar.

References

  1. ^ d'Huart, J.; Reyna, R. (2016). "Hylochoerus meinertzhageni (errata version published in 2016)". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T41769A100471546. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  2. ^ Meijaard, E., J.P. d'Huart, and W.L.R. Oliver (2011). Suidae (Pigs), pp. 248–291 in: Wilson, D.E., and R.A. Mittermeier, eds (2011). Handbook of the Mammals of the World, vol. 2. Hoofed Mammals. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 978-84-96553-77-4
  3. ^ Garfield, B. (2007). The Meinertzhagen Mystery: The Life and Legend of a Colossal Fraud. Potomac Books, Washington. Pp. 60. ISBN 1-59797-041-7
  4. ^ a b c d e f Novak, R. M. (editor) (1999). Walker's Mammals of the World. Vol. 2. 6th edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. pp. 1059–1060. ISBN 0-8018-5789-9
  5. ^ a b c Kingdon, J. (1997). The Kingdon Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press Limited, London. pp. 332–333. ISBN 0-12-408355-2
  6. ^ West, G., Heard, D., & Caulkett, N. (Eds.). (2008). Zoo animal and wildlife immobilization and anesthesia. John Wiley & Sons.
  7. ^ Estes, R. (1991). The behavior guide to African mammals (Vol. 64). Berkeley: University of California Press.
  8. ^ a b c d e Huffman, B. (2004). Giant forest hog. Ultimate Ungulates.
  9. ^ Estes, R. D. (1999). The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals Including Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, and Primates. Chelsea Green Publishing.
  10. ^ Dzanga Forest Elephants (2008). Departures and Arrivals.
  11. ^ Geist, Valerius (1966). "The Evolution of Horn-Like Organs". Brill. 27 (1–2): 175–214. doi:10.1163/156853966X00155.
  12. ^ Hart, J. A.; Katembo, M.; Punga, K. (1996). "Diet, prey selection and ecological relations of leopard and golden cat in the Ituri Forest, Zaire". African Journal of Ecology. 34 (4): 364–379. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2028.1996.tb00632.x.
  13. ^ Hayward, M. W. (2006). "Prey preferences of the spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) and degree of dietary overlap with the lion (Panthera leo)". Journal of Zoology. 270 (4): 606–614. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.2006.00183.x.

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Giant forest hog: Brief Summary

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The giant forest hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni), the only member of its genus, is native to wooded habitats in Africa and is generally considered the largest wild member of the pig family, Suidae; however, a few subspecies of the wild boar can reach an even larger size. Despite its large size and relatively wide distribution, it was first described only in 1904. The specific name honours Richard Meinertzhagen, who shot the type specimen in Kenya and had it shipped to the Natural History Museum in England.

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