African Pig Species in Uganda
Apart from the domestic pig that’s abundantly rared for commercial pork, there are three other swine or African pig species recorded in Uganda;
- The warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)
- The bushpig (Potamochoerus porcus)
- The giant forest hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni)
The most visible African pig species in Uganda is the warthog , a common resident of Uganda’s savanna national parks.
Warthogs are members of the same family as domestic pigs, but present a much different appearance. These sturdy hogs are not among the world’s most aesthetically pleasing animals—their large, flat heads are covered with three pairs of facial “warts”, as their name suggests, which are actually protective bumps. Warthogs also sport four sharp tusks and they’re mostly bald, but they do have some sparse hair and a thicker mane on their backs.
They are normally seen in family groups, trotting away briskly in the opposite direction with their tails raised stiffly and a determinedly nonchalant air.
Though warthogs appear ferocious, they are basically grazers. They eat grasses and plants, and also use their snouts to dig or “root” for roots or bulbs. When startled or threatened, warthogs can be surprisingly fast, running at speeds of up to 30 miles an hour.
Warthogs are adaptable mammals and are able to go long periods without water, as much as several months in the dry season. When water is available, they’ll seek it and often submerge to cool down. They will also wallow in mud for the same purpose—and to gain relief from insects.
Birds also aid these hogs in their battle with insects; oxpeckers and other species sometimes ride along on their warthog hosts, feeding on the tiny creatures invading their hides.
The bulkier and hairier bushpig is found mainly in thickets and dense woodland. Although bushpigs occur in all Uganda’s national parks except for Rwenzori, they are not often seen because of their nocturnal habits and the cover afforded by their favored habitat.
Resembling a hog but with long body hair and tassels of hair on its ears, the bushpig lives in groups, or sounders, of about 4 to 20 animals in forests and scrub regions south of the Sahara. It is omnivorous and roots for food with its snout.
The adult bush pig stands 64–76 cm (25–30 inches) tall at the shoulder. Its coat colour ranges from reddish brown to blackish, with black-and-white face markings and a white crest on the back.
Giant Forest Hog
The giant forest hog is the largest African pig species. It is a nocturnal creature of the forest interior, and so very rarely seen, but it probably occurs in all national parks in western Uganda, and is often seen on an Africa boat safari on Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Standing approximately 1m high and 190 cm long, giant forest hog 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 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.