Sunday, April 11, 2010

An afternoon stroll...

Walking the dogs here can be challenging.

The problem is, they like to chase wildlife. And yesterday, as I was being dragged headlong through the undergrowth (and let me tell you, huskies can drag), I began to feel nervous about what we might be pursuing. It's not as if I don't have cause: I've seen my dogs chase elephants, crocodiles, porcupines and mambas. And somewhere up ahead I could hear something big, growling.

As we emerged from a tangle of thorn bushes on to the fence line, I sighted our quarry: a large bush pig struggling to squeeze under the lower wire of the fence. Bush pigs (Potamochoerus porcus) are lovely: classically pig-shaped but with shaggy rufous fur and a long white mane that extends right along their backs. Their ears are tasselled at the ends and their faces patterned with white eye rings and side whiskers.
This is only the fourth time I've glimpsed the species (they're nocturnal and favour dense cover) but I was too preoccupied to really enjoy the moment. Bush pigs, you see, are famous for their viciousness when cornered (bailed up against a fence?) or attacked (by slavering huskies?). They are very powerful (weighing 60 kg) and use their 7 cm, razor-sharp lower incisors to slash at their adversary, leaving deep, vertical gashes. My vet says they're expert at disembowelling dogs. Fortunately - before we could put legend to the test - the bush pig managed to squirm under the fence and crash off into the undergrowth.

Bush pigs don't only use their tusks for self-defence. They tusk trees and vegetation, gouging out scars and applying an odorous secretion from their tusk glands. The pungency of this goo is heightened by the bacterial decay of vegetation in the pig's cheek pouches (located behind the upper tusks). It gets worse: bush pigs greet one another by blowing their breath into one another's faces.

Photo from Wikipedia.


  1. I did not know Huskies were good dogs to have in Africa. We think of them as sled dogs in Alaska.
    How do they cope with the weather? Can you put up a photo of them? They sound like fun. Jane

  2. jj, I'm afraid I have to keep them clipped for nine months of the year, because of the heat. This is time-consuming as I have to cut their fur with scissors(it's too dense to use human clippers). Just at the moment they seem to have more grass seeds than hair in their coats.
    I'm planning to write a post about them soon.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...