warthogs in Uganda
What do you know about the Warthogs? They are comical-appearing mammals with over-sized heads, bristly manes, extra long-skinny legs that allows them to kneel down when grazing, protruding tusks that makes them beautiful yet funny.
Scientifically known as Phacochoerus aethiopicus, Warthogs are wild pig members of the Pig family (Suidae) that inhabit savannah plains, woodlands and grasslands of Sub-Saharan Africa and divided into six sub-species that include the Cape warthogs, Southern warthogs (found in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia), Eritrean warthogs (in Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti), the Nolan warthogs found in many countries including Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Chad and Mauritania), Northern warthogs as well as the Central African warthogs found within Kenya and Tanzania.
Their skin color is always gray, black or reddish/yellowish, after mud wallowing and are known to be fast runners and can survive in an area without water for several months
When anxious, the Warthogs will run away with their tails standing vertically and are day-time mammals that spend most of their day looking for food. These animals are identified by their 2 pairs of tusks that project from their mouths before curving upwards.
The lower pair of the tusks are relatively shorter than the upper pair but sharper because they rub in against the upper pair every time these animals open and close their mouth. These structures are sometimes used for digging and combating with other hogs as well as defense against their enemies, and due to their sharpness, the lower pair can cause more wounds on the attacker
Warthogs mainly live in families/groups known as “Sounders” and have a strange and funny behavior of kneeling on their front knees during feeding or hunting and this is aided by their extremely long-skinny legs.
Their bodies are covered with scanty hairs from the top of their heads to the middle of their backs whereas along their spines are longer hairs. Their tail-ends have a cluster of hairs and it is also a characteristic of the warthogs to carry their long tails upright when running and the hairs wave like small flags to the blowing wind.
They are unable to dig, hence use holes already dug by other animals for their shelter (sleeping). Funnily, if chased by enter into the burrows to allow them surprise their enemies by charging out with tusks first and have been noted to have killed the Kings of the Jungle (Lions) by causing serious injuries.
Their lifespan is around 15 years and can easily be spotted within Uganda Savannah National Parks such as Lake Mburo, Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth and Kidepo Valley National Parks. Just like domestic pigs, they are greedy thus you should avoid storing your food or snacks in the tents if camping because they will tear your tent the moment they taste food.
They are herbivores contrary to the belief that they are ferocious animals that attack and eat prey. They actually feed on bulbs, roots, grass, berried, fruits, barks and plants. However, diet varies depending on the food that is available hence during scarcity, they feed on meat, preferably from dead animals, bugs and worms because they don’t hunt.
Male warthogs are obviously heavier than their females counterparts with the latter weighing 45 to 75 kilograms while the former weigh from 60 to 150 kilograms.
These warthogs do not possess the subcutaneous fat and have little hair on their coat hence making them prone to too much temperature in their environment. They are known to be strong diggers with their feet and snouts besides using their tusks.
Because they are not good at digging their own burrows, these mammals usually occupy the abandoned burrows of the Aardvarks. Interestingly, they enter the burrows in a reversed direction with their heads remaining out to face the opening hence ready to jump out in case of any trouble.
Their main predators are leopards, hyenas, crocodiles and lions but protect themselves by running away (since they are known to be good runners-up to 48 kilometers per hour) or by sliding back into their holes with their hind parts entering first and heads afterwards. Humans kill them when they raid their gardens and sometimes hunt them for bush meat.
Warthogs are said to have bad vision much as it is better than other African wild pigs and have a good sense of smell and hearing.
They have longer gestation period compared to other pig species-170 to 175 days, before producing from two to eight young ones (weighing from one to two pounds), Infants are fed on milk for at least 4 months then change to grass, berries and roots.