Pygmy hogs (tiny wild pigs), feared to have disappeared from forests, are not extinct.
Known to be present in only two Assam wildlife sanctuaries in the whole world, the pygmy hog may be one of the prized members once again in the Bornodi wildlife sanctuary.
Located near the Mangaldoi township is the sanctuary, which is otherwise known among researchers as the home of another endangered species in the world, the slow loris.
"Due to its remoteness and deplorable road condition, we have very few tourists with only people doing research, mostly from south India, occasionally visiting the park," says Mangaldoi Wildlife Division Divisional Forest Officer M Momin.
Seven nests, believed to be that of the hogs, were found early this year, raising hopes of the presence of the shy tiny creatures in this remote sanctuary.
Excited at the discovery, Momin claims that the forest department examined all aspects before coming to the conclusion that those belonged to pygmy hogs.
Although the habitats of the wild boar and the pygmy hog look almost the same, the shrub by which the nests are made are different, he says. "Experts have also tested the droppings of the animals which have been sent to competent authorities, including the Pygmy Conservation Centre in Guwahati and veterinary institutes, to confirm the presence of the creatures," the DFO says.
"We are awaiting their reply. But the findings and the sighting of two pygmy hogs by a forester, a couple of months back inside the sanctuary, has given us a lot of heart," he added.
The Pygmy hog, believed to be present only in the Manas Wildlife sanctuary, a world heritage site, and Bornodi, has a tragic tale. Almost the entire species was feared to have been wiped out, forcing experts to build the conservation centre in Guwahati which has been hugely successful in captive breeding of the animal.
The reason for the fast dwindling numbers was that the hogs were easily poached as they were not fast runners. Being tiny, almost like a mouse, the creatures are difficult to spot inside thick jungles leading to the assumption that they might have been totally wiped out, Momin says.
Villagers setting fire frequently to forest areas was another reason for the numbers coming down but gradually with awareness increasing among people, hunting had now stopped, Momin said.
"We have adopted all precaution this time to ensure that the pygmy hog stays and sought necessary help and guidance from the approriate authorities so as to build a congenial habitat this time", he said.