A rich landscape for people and wildlife

The terai grasslands provides a unique habitat which supports not only the pygmy hog, but a number of threatened species including the hispid hare (Caprolagus hispidus), tiger (Panthera tigris), Great Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) greater one‐horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), water buffalo (Bubalus arnee) and Bengal florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis).

Whilst many management plans for these grassland areas are focussed on the preservation of the larger more iconic Indian species, the pygmy hog is a good indicator for the health of these important habitats as they disappear faster than these less sensitive species. Pygmy hogs require a much more diverse assemblage of grasses in order to hide from predators, forage and provide material from which they make their nests which they use for shelter from predators and to breed. By preserving the grasslands in a pristine state and using the presence of pygmy hogs as an indicator of the health of the grasslands, we can optimise our conservation of the biodiversity reliant upon them.

ThatchAs well as supporting a diverse range of species, these wet grasslands are also of important economic value to the region. They benefit surrounding farming communities by acting like a sponge in the dry season, maintaining high groundwater levels for crops and also serve as a buffer in the rainy season reducing the risk of flooding and land erosion. Many communities are reliant upon the grasslands for their survival but the balance between preserving the grasslands and preventing over-exploitation must be addressed.

The survival of these species is closely linked to the existence and preservation of the tall grasslands and the decline of this unique habitat is threatening the future of the pygmy hog and many of these endangered species. Preservation of these grassland habitats is essential to the persistence of these dependent species.