The Hidden Gems of Wild Tripura -
Discovery of the Hog Badger.
Dipankar Deb, Wild Tripura Foundation.
Friday, 12th June, 2020
The North-eastern region of India is a biodiversity Hotspot. The confluence of the three different Indo-Malayan, Indo-Chinese and Indian biogeographical realms make this region unique in providing a profusion of different habitats, which features diverse biota with a high level of endemism. In this regard, our state Tripura is no exception. The forests of the state shelter some of the rarest wildlife, which are seldom seen elsewhere in the Country.
One such animal recently rescued from the forests of Kamalpur Sub-Division (Bhat Khawri area) of Dhalai District is the Hog Badger or the Greater Hog Badger (Arctonyx collaris), a rare mammal, which lacks proper documentation due to its highly elusive nature. Not many people have seen this bizarre creature in their life time.
Hog badgers are distributed primarily in Southeast Asia, starting from Sikkim and north-eastern China to Thailand. They are found on the North eastern part of the Indian subcontinent and the island of Sumatra.
Although it is described as the most common among the badgers found in Northeast India, it is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because the global population is thought to be declining due to high levels of poaching.
The Hog badger looks like a cross between a wild Boar and a small bear. Its coat is a uniform grizzled grey. For the local people, it is almost like a species of wild boar due to its colouration and pig like snout.
The rescue operation was carried out by the Forest Department, Govt. of Tripura in collaboration with the Wild Tripura Foundation, a leading Non Govt. Organisation of Tripura, which has played a pivotal role in rescuing wild animals for the last couple of years. Inmates of tribal village had informed the secretary of Wild Tripura Foundation, Sri Subhashis Sarkar about the accidental finding of three orphaned cubs, and soon after he along with the other members planned to rescue those orphaned cubs.
On 11th June afternoon the whole team comprising of Sri Subhasish Sarkar, Dr. Krishnendu Das and Sri Aniket Roy reached the scheduled destination of Bhatkhawri Area. The local people were very cooperative and extended every possible help for fruition of the rescue operation. With utmost care they kept those three cubs in their custody until the rescue team reached there. Later on the cubs were handed over to the Forest Department. After a preliminary health check-up, all the three healthy cubs has been relocated in Sepahijala Zoological Park.
It is for the first time this rare Hog badger has been recorded from Tripura. No previous records of occurrence of this animal in the state are available with the Forest Department. Two years ago, in 2018, two adult hog badgers, a male and a female, were rescued in separate incidents from Kaziranga National Park. Apart from this, there are no recent records from elsewhere in North-east India.
This unique mammal along with other wildlife has thrived in the forests of Tripura from time immemorial. With the increase in population of the state, the habitats of these animals are shrinking every day. With the ever increasing pressure on forest lands to make room for human settlements, wild animals are forced out of their comfort zones to venture into human habitation, where they are mercilessly trapped and killed for bush meat.
Generating awareness among the local people regarding the importance of wildlife and the critical role they play in sustaining the delicate ecosystem is the need of the hour for the viability of these rare animals in the long run, a step which has been undertaken by Wild Tripura Foundation since its inception.
In addition to this, enforcement of strictest wildlife protection laws in Tripura to protect these animals is an urgent need before it is too late.
Menon V. (2014) Indian Mammals: A Field Guide, Hachette Book Publishing India Pvt. Ltd.
Encyclopedia of Life Arctonyx collaris. Accessed on 12/06/2020 at http://eol.org/pages/328030/details.