The aim of the captive breeding programme is to support the conservation of the species by providing animals to be reintroduced into the wild in an effort to increase the size of the wild population and the species range reducing the risk of extinction.
The first attempt at captive breeding the pygmy hogs began in 1971 when the species was rediscovered following a fire in the Barnardi wildlife sanctuary. A tea plantation manager took the first group of 14 hogs into a private captive collection and called on Durrell’s Jeremy Mallinson for advice on husbandry techniques. Over the next few years this collection successfully produced over 40 hogs in captivity but unfortunately, due to a lack of experience of the keepers the population soon failed.
Following the formation of the Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme (PHCP) in 1995 an official conservation-led captive population was established at custom built facilities in Basistha. A total of 11 wild pygmy hogs were caught during a series of elephant drives where lines of elephants are used to flush out wild hogs into a net where they were captured. Six of these hogs were transferred to the Basistha facility and were the founders of the current captive-breeding programme.
Two years later the captive-breeding programme had been so successful that the captive population of pygmy hogs had increased by over 600%. A new breeding facility was established at Potasali to house the increasing population. By 2014 over 85 captive-bred hogs have been released into the wild and a further 60 remain in captivity as a safety net population and will continue to produce hogs for future releases.