Adorable tiny hog species saved from extinction

Sixteen itty bitty pigs, which belong to a species that faces extinction, will be released into their natural habitat at the foot of the Himalayas.

200805151012.jpg Sixteen of the world's smallest and rarest pigs will take their first tentative steps in the wild today after the species was rescued from the brink of extinction.

The pygmy hog (Porcula salvanius), once common in India, Nepal and Bhutan, was thought extinct in the 1960s after years passed without a sighting of the mammal, which stands up to 30cm high and weighs a maximum of nine kilogrammes (20lb).

In 1971 four were rescued from a market in the state of Assam, in the north of India, a discovery that alerted the world to a further handful surviving in the region's tea gardens. After a 13-year captive breeding programme led by Durrell Wildlife, the Jersey-based conservation centre founded by the author Gerald Durrell, the descendents of those surviving hogs are being reintroduced to their natural habit at the foot of the Himalayas.