Potamochoerus larvatus, or bushpig, ranges from Somalia to eastern and southern former Zaire and southwards to Cape Province and Natal in South Africa. They were probably introduced onto Madagascar, Comoro and Mayotte Islands. There are currently three provisional subspecies; P. l. hassama, P. l. somaliensis, and P. l. koiropotamus. The principle systematic division within the subspecies is between the white-faced animals of eastern Africa and the remaining populations of both southern Africa and Madagascar.
The range of this species has changed, and there is insufficient data on its former distribution. Recently, expansion of the Sahel zone has led to a reduction in cover and the availability of open water in northeastern Africa, resulting in a contraction in the range of P. larvatus in that region. Nonetheless, P. larvatus seems to have maintained its presence over the majority of its former range, and recent, localized expansion in its range has been reported in some areas.
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Introduced , Native )
The coat of the Potamochoerus larvatus is shaggy and varies from light reddish brown to gray-brown to almost black in color. Bushpigs, however, are usually black with the head region usually a different shade than the rest of the body. The long, erectile bristly hairs along the spine form a mane that starts between the ears and extends to the rear. The ears have moderate tassels at their tips though not nearly as long as in their close relative, red river hogs (Potamochoerus porcus). Body color is variable between ages, individuals, sexes and populations. The young are born with temporary brown and yellow stripes, which fade away over several months. The tail is long and has a tuft of coarse hair at the tip. The animals appear stout because the body is round and the legs are relatively short. Males have a bony ridge and warts on the snout. The tusks or canines are directed upward and outward. Upper tusks are small and barely visible. Lower tusks are prominent and quite sharp, growing up to 7 cm long. These animals can weigh 54 to 115 kilograms. They are usually between 100 and 150 centimeters long.
Range mass: 54 to 115 kg.
Range length: 100 to 150 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes shaped differently; ornamentation
Bushpigs inhabit a wide range of habitats from sea-level to montane forest (up to 4,000 m on Mt. Kilimanjaro), to gallery forest, flooded forest, swampland, woodland, and mixed scrub and cultivated areas. Bushpigs can adapt to human influenced habitats as well because they eat agricultural food crops.
Range elevation: 0 to 4000 m.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; scrub forest ; mountains
Other Habitat Features: agricultural ; riparian
Habitat and Ecology
Bushpigs feed on plant roots, rhizomes, bulbs, tubers, fruits, and insect larvae which are rooted from the subsurface soil. They also consume a variety of invertebrates, smaller vertebrates, and carrion. Their stealth and taste for agricultural food crops enables them to thrive on potatoes, maize, tomatoes, sugar cane, and other vegetables.
Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; reptiles; eggs; carrion ; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; mollusks
Plant Foods: roots and tubers; seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit
Primary Diet: omnivore
Potamochoerus larvatus may be important dispersers of seeds on the forest floor and are important prey animals for large carnivores.
Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds
This species is known to be preyed upon by humans, leopards, lions, hyaenas, and pythons.
- humans (Homo sapiens)
- leopards (Panthera pardus)
- lions (Panthera leo)
- spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta)
- pythons (Python)
Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic
Life History and Behavior
Potamochoerus larvatus commonly communicate by grunting, with infrequent squeals and roars. They make a long, resonant growl as an alarm call. They also have exceptional hearing and sense of smell, but poor eyesight.
Communication Channels: acoustic ; chemical
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
On average, bushpigs live about 20 years in the wild.
Status: wild: 20 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Potamochoerus larvatus have a polygynous mating system wherein male bushpigs exlude other males from access to a group of females. Males compete for access to females by butting heads and having forehead shoving matches. Males play an active role in the rearing and defense of the young.
Mating System: polygynous
Most births occur before the onset of the rainy season between September and November. Most often the female bushpig retires to a sheltered nest or hollow just before giving birth. Females have a gestation period of 120 to 127 days. Females have 1 to 4 young but can have up to 6. After birth, the female nurses the young for 2 to 4 months. Parents usually drive out young bushpigs at about 6 months of age. A young Bushpig reaches sexual maturity at 18 to 21 months.
Breeding interval: Bushpigs breed once yearly.
Breeding season: Mating takes place in May and June.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 4.
Range gestation period: 120 to 127 days.
Range weaning age: 2 to 4 months.
Average time to independence: 6 months.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 18 to 21 months.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 18 to 21 months.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous
Boars (males) provides parental care and defense in addition to females. The dominant boar guards and leads the young to feeding areas. Boars also aggressively drive other boars off their feeding grounds.
Parental Investment: precocial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)
Potamochoerus larvatus is not considered threatened over the majority of its known range at the present time. In fact, based on research done by The World Conservation Union (IUCN), there is evidence that the conversion of former forest to secondary scrub and agriculture has resulted in an increase in their numbers in some areas. It turns out that attempts to control or eradicate Potamochoerus larvatus in these areas have usually proved unsuccessful.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
In the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi bushpigs are reputed to cause more damage to agriculture than any other species. In addition, members of the genus Potamochoerus are regarded as vectors of livestock diseases and may be host to or vectors of tick-borne diseases, such as trichinosis, African swine fever and trypanosomes. Consequently, they are widely persecuted by farmers as well as targeted in wildlife control programmes.
Negative Impacts: injures humans (carries human disease); crop pest; causes or carries domestic animal disease
Potamochoerus larvatus is hunted widely for subsistence purposes. The influence of Islam, however, has presumably afforded these animals a good deal of protection against hunting in many African countries and in some parts of Madagascar because of taboos on consumption of pork.
Positive Impacts: food
- "Bush pig" may also refer to the Red River Hog.
The bushpig, Potamochoerus larvatus, is a member of the pig family and lives in forests, woodland, riverine vegetation and reedbeds in East and Southern Africa. Probably introduced populations are also present in Madagascar. There have also been unverified reports of their presence on the Comoro island of Mayotte. Bushpigs are mainly nocturnal. There are several subspecies.
Adult bushpigs stand from 66 to 100 cm (26 to 39 in) at the shoulder, and weigh from 55 to 150 kg (121 to 331 lb). They resemble the domestic pig, and can be identified by their blunt, muscular snouts, small eyes, pointed, tufted ears and buckled toes.[clarification needed] Their colour varies from reddish-brown to dark brown and becomes darker with age. Both sexes have a lighter-coloured mane which bristles when the animal becomes agitated. The upper parts of the face and ears are also lighter in colour. Their sharp tusks are fairly short and inconspicuous. Unlike warthogs, bushpigs run with their tails down. Males are normally larger than females.
The bushpig is closely related to the red river hog, Potamochoerus porcus, with which it can interbreed. The bushpig is distinguished by its less colourful markings, coarser hair,[clarification needed] and larger size. Many pig populations display physical characteristics intermediate between the two species.
Bushpigs are quite social animals and are found in sounders of up to 12 members. A typical group will consist of a dominant male and a dominant female, with other females and juveniles accounting for the rest. Litters of three to four young are born in summer[clarification needed] after a gestation period of approximately four months. Bushpigs can be very aggressive, especially when they have young.
They are omnivorous and their diet could include roots, crops or carrion, as well as newborn lambs. They grunt softly while foraging, and make a long, resonant growl as an alarm call. They are a significant nuisance in the agricultural regions of South Africa, and are hunted fairly extensively. However, the population of bushpigs in the farming areas continues to grow despite the hunting efforts, due to the largely innaccesible terrain, abundance of food, lack of predators, and their rapid ability to adapt to hunting methods.
Still distributed over a wide range, the bushpig occurs from Ethiopia and Somalia to eastern and southern DR Congo and southwards to Cape and KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa,. It also occurs on Madagascar and possibly the Comoros archipelago. It is not known how it reached these islands, but it was probably taken there by humans, possibly after a period of domestication.[full citation needed]
- Potamochoerus larvatus larvatus
- Potamochoerus larvatus edwardsi
- Potamochoerus larvatus hassama
- Potamochoerus larvatus koiropotamus
- Potamochoerus larvatus nyasae
- Potamochoerus larvatus somaliensis
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- Seydack. A. (2008). Potamochoerus larvatus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 5 April 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern.
- Kingdon, J. (1997). The Kingdon Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press Limited, London. ISBN 0-12-408355-2
- Oral testimony from professional hunters in the area
- Simoons (1953), cited in Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M., eds. (2005). Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M., eds. (2005). Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
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