Red river Hog

River Hog in Nigeria

Red river Hog, Potamochoerus porcus, called Túùkú in Yoruba, varies in physical characteristics across its range, especially with regard to coloration. West-African bush pigs are predominantly reddish with a white dorsal stripe. The shaggy, foxy red coat has contrasting black and white markings on the head, including a white eye ring. Fur is short except for longer bristles on jaws and flanks. The leaf-shaped ears have long black and white tassels and an erect, long bristled, white mane runs the length of the back. Body length varies between 1 and 1.5 meter and shoulder height is up to 80 cm. Large adult males may weigh well up to 100 kg.

Red river hogs are omnivorous and eat a wide range of foods. They have been observed eating roots, bulbs, fruit, grass, small animals, eggs, insects and even carcasses of other animals. They live in small family groups usually comprising 4-10 individuals. They are usually sedentary and territorial. The species is most active in the evening and during the night, and rests in a burrow deep within dense thickets during the day.

Gestation Period is for 120-127 days. Farrowing occurs in February/March in Nigeria. One to four young are delivered at birth, rarely up to six. Weaning takes place at two or four months and the young Red river Hog attains sexual maturity at 18-21 months. This mammal may live for up to 20 years.

The African swine fever virus genomic DNA has been detected in a Nigerian Red river Hog. This virus, which caused an outbreak that was reported by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization as the most alarming event of 1971, causes the highly contagious diseases of pigs. Unfortunately, it is projected that Africa will remain a main reservoir for the virus for the foreseeable future. In Nigeria, the red river Hog is found within the northern limit of the Niger and Benue Rivers.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer