Giant Forest Hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family:    Suidae
Size:    Height: 2.5 to 3.5 feet (0.7 to 1 m)  Length: 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 m)
Weight: 300 to 600 pounds (136 to 272 kg)
Diet: A variety of grasses, fruit and plants
Distribution: Africa
Young:  2 to 11 piglets, twice per year
Animal Predators:  Leopards and spotted hyenas
IUCN Status: Vulnerable
Terms: Young: Piglet  Male: Boar  Female:  Sow   Group: Sounder 
Lifespan: 10 to15 years



·       The scientific name is derived from Greek and means: Hule—a mole or wart; khoiros—a pig or hog.

·       In the Congo, eating a giant forest hog is believed to bring misfortune.

·       The male/female ratio within a group of giant forest hogs is 1:2.



Giant forest hogs are grey-skinned animals, covered in long, black, coarse fur. The males are larger than the females and have bulging scent sacs to mark their territory, located under their eyes. Both females and males have tusks and a tail, which is used for swatting flies. 



There are three subspecies of giant forest hog: the one found in central East Africa is the largest. They live in the forested areas of various equatorial African countries including Côte dIvoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, Ethiopia and Senegal. Each group of hogs ranges over a territory of approximately eight square miles (10 square km). The territory includes a water source, heavy forests and some clearings.


Feeding Habits

In national parks, where they are not hunted, giant forest hogs go out in the morning to forage, rest through the hot midday, and then forage again until dark. Whether in parks or in the wild, forest hogs forage in family groups.



Hog couples leave the sounder to attain some privacy while mating. Mating occurs twice a year, from February to April and August to October. After a gestation period of five months, the female has a litter of up to 11 piglets, although two to six piglets is the average litter size. Before the birth, the female prepares a nest of bamboo in an area well concealed with undergrowth. Within a week of birth, the piglets follow their mother while she rejoins the group and while she forages for food. All the members of the sounder are protective of the piglets. New mothers may sometimes nurse piglets from another hog’s litter. The piglets are weaned at eight to 10 weeks. Females reach sexual maturity between 12 and 18 months, while males become fully mature between three to four years. 



Giant forest hogs live in mixed male/female groups of six to 20 animals. They are very sociable animals that sleep in nests camouflaged by dense shrubbery. In areas where they are hunted, they tend to forage for food only after dark. They like to wallow in mud to keep cool and to get rid of parasites. The males, and especially the dominant male, defend the group from predators. They can be extremely ferocious and a group can drive off a lone hyena. Forest hogs communicate with a range of vocalizations, including grunts and barks. Adults surround piglets when a predator approaches, and the piglets will either freeze or drop flat to the ground at the sound of an alarm grunt from one of the adults. 



Giant forest hogs are threatened in some areas due to hunting, and are particularly in danger from farmers who wish to protect their crops. A subspecies of giant forest hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni ivoriensis) is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. 



Giant Forest Hog Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US