HYDERABAD: In encouraging news, the endangered species of pygmy hogs was found to have genetic diversity despite a longterm captive breeding programme. This was reported by the CSIR-CCMB-LaCONES (Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species) and Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme, in a study that aims to examine reproductive and genetic fitness of these animals bred in captivity over many years.
This rare animal found only in Assam is conserved under a Pygmy Hog Conservation Program (PHCP), which is a collaborative project with Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, IUCN/SSC Wild Pig Specialist Group, Forest Department, Government of Assam, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, EcoSystems-India and Aaranyak as the key partners.
As part of this project, since 1996, over 500 animals have been bred and 142 released into the wild after being bred in captivity. However, the cause of concern for all parties involved in the conservation efforts was that all these captive animals were offsprings of seven wild caught hogs. The research group headed by Dr G Umapathy at CSIR-CCMB LaCONES, however, found that there were no overall signs of genetic inbreeding by studying genetic changes in 36 captive-bred pygmy hogs over time across eight consecutive generations.
The researchers tested the association between genetic diversity and reproductive success to account for any fitness loss. “This is possible due to strict scientific conservation breeding protocol by the Programme. They had carefully selected mating pairs that share the lowest kinship between them. But the recent generations show slightly increased relatedness. So, we recommend introduction of a few wild individuals to the breeding pool,” said Dr Umapathy.
The pygmy hog is a rare animal found only in Assam. It is conserved under a Pygmy Hog Conservation Program (PHCP), which is a collaborative project, with Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, IUCN/SSC Wild Pig Specialist Group, Forest Department, Government of Assam, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, EcoSystems-India and Aaranyak as the key partners