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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa

Pigs & Warthogs



Introduction: The bushpig (Potamochoerus porcus) belongs to the Order Artiodactyla, or hoofed herbivorous mammals, the same as the warthog. There are some similarities between the 2, although the bushpig is probably not quite as ugly as the warthog. Bushpigs are strong, stocky and cunning animals that can owe its own increase in numbers to the decline of the leopard - its main natural predator.

Bushpigs are social animals that live in groups of 6 to 8 animals, led by a dominant pair. All male groups occur as well as do sightings of individuals. They can be a very dangerous animal when cornered or threatened and their lower incisors can pack a nasty bite. Dominant boars defend their own feeding grounds, but fights are generally restricted to tail wagging, pawing the ground and rolling and hair rising.

Bushpigs have a life expectancy of 13 years, especially if they can keep out of range of a rifle's foresight whilst rummaging around the garden for some tomatoes or root vegetables.

Distribution: The forest and riverine vegetation areas along the

Caprivi Strip, especially dense thickets or tall grass for cover, but access to water is vital.

Diet: Plant roots, bulbs, tubers and fruits are eked out using the upper edge of the snout. Insect larvae are dug out of moist earth and leaf-litter. They have been known to eat carrion and the killing of small animals has been reported. Their liking for food crops such as maize, potatoes, tomatoes, cane and especially sugar, more often than not attracts the bushpig to human settlements, notably farms, where they are considered a pest.

Coloring: Brownish-black or reddish, long, bristle-like hair that is whitish around the face and neck.

Breeding: Litter sizes are usually 3 or 4 piglets which are born with pale longitudinal stripes, a camouflage and survival aid. Gestation periods are around 4 months. Sows 'litter down' in a nest built of bundles of grasses that she burrows into once they reach the size of a small haystack. They have also been known to give birth in the stumps of hollow trees. Piglets are cared and protected for by boars once they join a sounder for about 6 months, but are driven away by the dominant pair at this stage.

Size: Adults stand from between 0.55-0.9m at the shoulder. Weight: 60kg-100kg.


Introduction: The warthog is an African pig with large curved tusks protruding from its huge flattened head, 1 set from both upper and lower jaws. It gets it name from the gristly warts that protrude from the sides of its face. Boars have 2 pairs, sows only 1. It is not known for certain what purpose the warts serve. One explanation is that they are used as a weapon, or, alternatively, as a defence in fending off blows from other warthogs.

Warthogs live in families of related females with their offspring and 10 individuals may form a sounder. They travel in small family groups and are a common sight in Namibia, often seen wandering along the side of the highway. They act as nature's gardeners and till large areas of soil through their digging exploits. Apart from aerating the soil and softening it to allow the rain to sink in, they also bury and thus protect seeds from fire damage, whilst at the same time they expose other bulbs to which birds such as the francolin are partial. They are great mud wallowers.

Distribution: Warthogs can be seen all over central Namibia and are often found grazing on the verges of the road. For those arriving in the country they can often be seen on the short trip from the International Airport into Windhoek. Care should be taken while driving as warthogs can do considerable damage to vehicles and passengers.

Diet: In general warthogs are mainly vegetations, living on annual and perennial short grasses, but also roots, fruit and even carrion. They are not dependent on the availability of water, but will drink it regularly if there is a supply.

Coloring: Grey and both sexes have a crest of long black, brown or yellowish bristly hair from between the ears to the base of the tail, which normally hangs down over the sides of the shoulders and body, but can be erect under stress.

Breeding: Females give birth to litters of 2 to 5, in burrows, using original aardvark excavations. They are born from around September to December - after a gestation period of just more than 5 months.

Size: The shoulder height is up to 70cm and they weigh between 60 and 100kg. Females stand 60cm and a mass of up to 60kg. Their tusks may be as much as 61cm long.

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