Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 14:23 UK

Success for pygmy hog programme

Assam pygmy hog: Pic Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
Assam pygmy hogs tend to live in small family groups

A pig which was believed to have become extinct is being released back into the wild by Jersey's Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

The trust has been breeding Assam pygmy hogs in captivity for 10 years.

At about 30cm (12in) tall, and weighing just 9kg (20lbs), it is believed to be the smallest pig in the world.

It was thought to have died out in the 1960s because its habitat had been destroyed, but six were captured in the Himalayan foothills in 1997.

They became part of a breeding programme and now numbers have risen to about 80.

Monsoon season

Sixteen are currently living in three family groups in a pre-release site in a National Park in India.

Pygmy hogs live in dense, tall grassland and feed on roots, vegetable matter, insects and other invertebrates.

They are non-territorial and tend to live in small family groups.

A Durrell spokesperson said they are due to be released into the wild by the end of the month before the monsoon season begins.

The trust was founded by naturalist and author Gerald Durrell, who died in 1995.

It aims to prevent the decline and extinction of endangered animals and is currently taking part in captive breeding programmes involving more than 30 different species.


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