Giant forest hog

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Giant forest hog
Hylochoerus meinertzhageni2.jpg
Hylochoerus meinertzhageni.jpg
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Suidae
Genus: Hylochoerus
Thomas, 1904
Species:
H. meinertzhageni
Binomial name
Hylochoerus meinertzhageni
Thomas, 1904
Hylochoerus meinertzhageni map.svg
  H. m. ivoriensis
  H. m. rimator
  H. m. meinertzhageni

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]

Contents

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

The skull of a male giant forest hog Giant Forrest Hog Skull.JPG
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]

Related Research Articles

Leopard Large cat native to Africa and Asia

The leopard is one of the five extant species in the genus Panthera, a member of the cat family, Felidae. It occurs in a wide range in sub-Saharan Africa, in some parts of Western and Central Asia, Southern Russia, and on the Indian subcontinent to Southeast and East Asia. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because leopard populations are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, and are declining in large parts of the global range. The leopard is considered locally extinct in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Jordan, Morocco, Togo, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Kuwait, Syria, Libya, Tunisia and most likely in North Korea, Gambia, Laos, Lesotho, Tajikistan, Vietnam and Israel. Contemporary records suggest that the leopard occurs in only 25% of its historical global range.

Wild boar Species of mammal

The wild boar, also known as the wild swine, common wild pig, Eurasian wild pig, or simply wild pig, is a suid native to much of Eurasia and North Africa, and has been introduced to the Americas and Oceania. The species is now one of the widest-ranging mammals in the world, as well as the most widespread suiform. It has been assessed as least concern on the IUCN Red List due to its wide range, high numbers, and adaptability to a diversity of habitats. It has become an invasive species in part of its introduced range. Wild boars probably originated in Southeast Asia during the Early Pleistocene and outcompeted other suid species as they spread throughout the Old World.

Common warthog Wild member of the pig family

The common warthog is a wild member of the pig family (Suidae) found in grassland, savanna, and woodland in sub-Saharan Africa. In the past, it was commonly treated as a subspecies of P. aethiopicus, but today that scientific name is restricted to the desert warthog of northern Kenya, Somalia, and eastern Ethiopia.

Suidae Family of mammals belonging to even-toed ungulates

Suidae is a family of artiodactyl mammals which are commonly called pigs, hogs, or boars. In addition to numerous fossil species, 18 extant species are currently recognized, classified into between four and eight genera. Within this family, the genus Sus includes the domestic pig, Sus scrofa domesticus or Sus domesticus, and many species of wild pig from Europe to the Pacific. Other genera include babirusas and warthogs. All suids, or swine, are native to the Old World, ranging from Asia to Europe and Africa.

North Sulawesi babirusa Species of mammal

The North Sulawesi babirusa is a pig-like animal native to Sulawesi and some nearby islands in Indonesia. It has two pairs of large tusks composed of enlarged canine teeth. The upper canines penetrate the top of the snout, curving back toward the forehead. The North Sulawesi babirusa is threatened from hunting and deforestation.

Spotted hyena Species of hyena

The spotted hyena, also known as the laughing hyena, is a hyena species, currently classed as the sole extant member of the genus Crocuta, native to sub-Saharan Africa. It is listed as being of least concern by the IUCN on account of its widespread range and large numbers estimated between 27,000 and 47,000 individuals. The species is, however, experiencing declines outside of protected areas due to habitat loss and poaching. The species may have originated in Asia, and once ranged throughout Europe for at least one million years until the end of the Late Pleistocene. The spotted hyena is the largest known member of the Hyaenidae, and is further physically distinguished from other species by its vaguely bear-like build, its rounded ears, its less prominent mane, its spotted pelt, its more dual-purposed dentition, its fewer nipples and the presence of a pseudo-penis in the female. It is the only mammalian species to lack an external vaginal opening, having a pseudo-penis instead.

Suina Lineage of omnivorous, non-ruminant artiodactyl mammals that includes the pigs and peccaries

Suina is a suborder of omnivorous, non-ruminant artiodactyl mammals that includes the pigs and peccaries. A member of this clade is known as a suine. Suina includes the family Suidae, termed suids, known in English as pigs or swine, as well as the family Tayassuidae, termed tayassuids or peccaries. Suines are largely native to Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia, with the exception of the wild boar, which is additionally native to Europe and Asia and introduced to North America and Australasia, including widespread use in farming of the domestic pig subspecies. Suines range in size from the 55 cm (22 in) long pygmy hog to the 210 cm (83 in) long giant forest hog, and are primarily found in forest, shrubland, and grassland biomes, though some can be found in deserts, wetlands, or coastal regions. Most species do not have population estimates, though approximately two billion domestic pigs are used in farming, while several species are considered endangered or critically endangered with populations as low as 100. One species, Heude's pig, is considered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature to have gone extinct in the 20th century.

African elephant Genus comprising two living elephant species

The African elephant (Loxodonta) is a genus comprising two living elephant species, the African bush elephant and the smaller African forest elephant. Both are social herbivores with grey skin, but differ in the size and colour of their tusks and in the shape and size of their ears and skulls.

Red river hog Species of pig

The red river hog or bushpig, is a wild member of the pig family living in Africa, with most of its distribution in the Guinean and Congolian forests. It is rarely seen away from rainforests, and generally prefers areas near rivers or swamps.

Ethiopian Highlands Mountain range in northern Ethiopia

The Ethiopian Highlands is a rugged mass of mountains in Ethiopia in northeast Africa. It forms the largest continuous area of its elevation in the continent, with little of its surface falling below 1,500 m (4,900 ft), while the summits reach heights of up to 4,550 m (14,930 ft). It is sometimes called the Roof of Africa due to its height and large area. Most of the Ethiopian Highlands are part of central and northern Ethiopia, and its northernmost portion reaches into Eritrea.

Bushpig Species of mammal

The bushpig is a member of the pig family that inhabits forests, woodland, riverine vegetation and cultivated areas in East and Southern Africa. Probably introduced populations are also present in Madagascar. There have also been unverified reports of their presence on the Comoro island of Mayotte. Bushpigs are mainly nocturnal. There are several subspecies.

African leopard Leopard subspecies

The African leopard is the nominate subspecies of the leopard, native to many countries in Africa. It is widely distributed in most of sub-Saharan Africa, but the historical range has been fragmented in the course of habitat conversion. Leopards have also been recorded in North Africa as well.

Sri Lankan leopard Leopard subspecies

The Sri Lankan leopard is a leopard subspecies native to Sri Lanka. It was first described in 1956 by Sri Lankan zoologist Paules Edward Pieris Deraniyagala.

Desert warthog Species of mammal

The desert warthog is a species of even-toed ungulate in the pig family (Suidae), found in northern Kenya and Somalia, and possibly Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. This is the range of the extant subspecies, commonly known as the Somali warthog. Another subspecies, commonly known as the Cape warthog, became extinct around 1865, but formerly occurred in South Africa.

Warthog Genus of wild pigs

Phacochoerus is a genus in the family Suidae, commonly known as warthogs. It is the sole genus of subfamily Phacochoerinae. They are pigs who live in open and semi-open habitats, even in quite arid regions, in sub-Saharan Africa. The two species were formerly considered conspecific under the scientific name Phacochoerus aethiopicus, but today this is limited to the desert warthog, while the best-known and most widespread species, the common warthog, is Phacochoerus africanus.

<i>Potamochoerus</i> Genus of mammals

Potamochoerus is a genus in the pig family (Suidae). The two species are restricted to sub-Saharan Africa, although the bushpig, possibly due to introduction by humans, also occurs in Madagascar and nearby islands. Early in the 20th century, there were considered to be as many as five different species within the genus. These were gradually consolidated, until, in the 1970s, it was generally agreed that all were representatives of just a single species. The bushpig was again recognised as a separate species from about 1993.

References

  1. d'Huart, J.; Reyna, R. (2016) [errata version of 2016 assessment]. "Hylochoerus meinertzhageni". 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. 1 2 3 4 5 6 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. 1 2 3 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. 1 2 3 4 5 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.