Identification of Bush Pig
Predation Management in Livestock Farming

©Nigel Dennis
Bush pigs (Potamochoerus larvatus) are found in the northern and eastern parts of South Africa, from southern KwaZulu-Natal to the interior of the Free State as well as the Eastern and Western Cape. According to A conservation assessment of Potamochoerus larvatus by the South African National Biodiversity Institute and Endangered Wildlife Trust, population densities range between 0,3 and 0,5 animals per square kilometre, with home ranges varying between 3,8 km² to 10,1 km² depending on the availability of food.

As indicated by the name, bush pigs have a pig-like appearance and track. They have hairy bodies with tufts of hair on their ear tips. The facial hair is usually much lighter than the colour of the rest of the body. Adults may grow up to 1,7 m long and weigh anything from 46 kg to 115 kg.

They are monogamous, with groups generally consisting of one breeding female, one alpha boar and one or two generations of offspring. Females are ready for reproduction from 21 months of age, producing up to six piglets per litter. The females build nests out of grass.

Killing and Feeding Pattern

©Nigel Dennis
Bush pigs are most active at night but may be seen during the cooler hours of the day if left undisturbed. They are omnivores, using their hard snouts to root for rhizomes, bulbs and tubers. While they are considered a pest on some maize, sugar cane, fruit and nut farms, they rarely prey on agricultural livestock.

Similar to baboons, they do not follow a specific killing pattern and usually use their tusks to rip prey open. They devour almost the whole carcass and are pretty messy eaters.

Management

©Nigel Dennis
Farmers are advised, in the Predation Management Forum's manual, to prevent crop and livestock losses with well-constructed fences, that have at least two electrified strands. Alternatively, farmers should kraal vulnerable livestock at night or use shepherds, guard animals or noise, light or scent deterrents to prevent losses.

Collapsible walk-in traps are recommended for capturing bush pigs. Farmers are advised to use pre-baiting to get the pigs used to the traps and to get multiple captures. With the relevant permit, bush pigs may be hunted with dogs or at night. Hunting dogs, for animal welfare reasons, should however not get into physical contact with bush pigs.

By Glenneis Kriel