The Giant Forest Hog is the Largest Member of the Pig Family
The giant forest hog is the largest wild member of the pig family. These huge pigs live in wooded areas of western and central Africa. Although rumors of the forest hog had circulated for a long time, it wasn't until 1904 that the existence of the forest hog was confirmed to exist in the minds of Europeans when Col. Richard Meinertz-hagen bought the skin of a large black pig while visiting Mount Kenya. Later he found huge skull that measured over a yard with giant tusks. And shortly after, he encountered an 8 foot long boar. And in typical human fashion, he killed the boar to be displayed in a European museum. Why it is always the inclination of mankind to kill animals so that we might admire their corpses on display is something future generations of more evolved humans will struggle to understand.
The boars of the giant forest hog species average an amazing 460 pounds but can weigh an impressive 600 pounds. The females typically weighing quite a bit less, averaging around 368 pounds. These pigs typically live in groups of 20 or so pigs called a sounder. A sounder consists of mostly females and their offspring and possibly an older male.
Like all pigs, these pigs wallow in mud to keep cool and protect themselves from the sun. And they have designated bathroom areas to keep predators from discovering them and to keep their living spaces clean. Yes, they follow the old adage: "Don't leave pig poop berries where you eat." And to protect their babies from leopards, these pigs will create massive nests that can only be entered through a tiny passage that makes protecting their sounder easy. The intelligence of pigs is seen again and again in how they adap their environment and make it work for them and their survival.
The females sows spend about 150 days gestating when pregnant before having on average about 4 piglets. They say it takes a village to raise a child. And even with these pigs, this saying holds true. The young can be found nursing from any of the lactating females. After about 8 week, the piglets will be weaned.
The giant forest hog, like other pigs, have their own language that consists of different sounding grunts that can express anything from a greeting to a warning. And they also have certain rituals that are used to establish dominance. One such ritual involves the rival boars challenging each other by charging from 80 feet apart and crashing forehead to forehead with a thundering crash. This happens over and over until one pig gives up and has their tail bit by the victor.
Mostly active at dust and dawn, the giant forest hog may look like a warrior pig but mostly subsist on foraging on plants, roots and fruit.
For more information on the Giant Forest Hog, check out the book The Whole Hog by Lyall Watson.