Due to a small wild population, estimated at less than 250 individuals, and a highly restricted range, the pygmy hog is currently listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Since the rediscovery of the species in 1971, only one remaining wild population is believed to have persisted in the Manas National Park. Despite conservation efforts, the intense pressure on the grasslands in this area has led to continuing decline of this population. Without efforts to restore the species into protected areas, where the management of the grasslands can be better controlled, the species is likely to continue to decline into extinction in the near future.
In response to this crisis, the PHCP set up a captive-breeding programme which, with careful management from local partners, has seen the original group of six wild hogs, captured in 1996, increase to over 60 captive pygmy hogs.
The success of the captive breeding programme enabled the PHCP to conduct a series of releases of captive-bred animals into the wild between 2008 and 2014 at two identified release sites. Over the last seven years a total of 85 pygmy hogs have been successfully released into Sonai Rupai Wildlife Sanctuary and Orang National Park increasing the wild population size of the species by an estimated 35%. By establishing two additional sub-populations the range of the species has also increased. However, continued efforts are required before the species can be down listed to a less threatened Red List category and to ensure the future survival of the pygmy hogs in Assam.