It’s that time of year again when babies litter the bushveld, including the always awesome sight of tiny warthog piglets dashing off behind their mum. Since finding ‘Kevin’ 2 years ago and writing out first blog post, we have received numerous emails and messages from others who have found themselves as surrogate piggy parents. We therefore thought it was about time for a follow-up report on Kevin and the 40kg young man that he is today!
In our last blog post, we left you after having had Kevin for 2 months. It wasn’t long after, that Kevin started to grow his teeth making his presence around the house very destructive. We carried on for a little while, he would spend his days with us, following us wherever we went and his nights sleeping in the outside boma. Around March, after a couple of big holes were chewed in the sofas……we decided it was time to move Kevin out full-time! Now at this stage we were very lucky, we have some antelope breeding camps right next to the house which provided the ideal ‘middle’ home for Kevin before returning him to the bush. It may be at this stage that you need to make a decision with your warthog; they become too destructive to remain at the house and can become aggressive. We didn’t have that problem with Kevin but I have heard in some cases of them becoming protective of their ‘parents’ and attacking other people. If you do not have a ‘half-way home’, it may be at this stage that your warthog must brave the bush alone.
In the breeding camps, the first job was to build Kevin a burrow. We wanted to teach him about where he must sleep when he eventually lives in the wild. For this we just dug a hole and then covered it with a sheet of corrugated iron , soil and rocks. We brought Kevin over and stuck our arm in to show him it was safe. With a little nudge he soon went inside and within a minute or two was already excavating. He wiggled around at the bottom and brought out any soil he didn’t need with his snout. He moulded it all to fit him and even took some dry grass to the bottom to build himself a bed. Again, instinct just seemed to kick in here and after the intial building, he sorted it out for himself. Click on this link for the video footage of Kev excavating his first burrow http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1CxJVtWPZQ
From then on, there was very little care involved; we did still take Kevin milk and bread, even up until a year old but he was already feeding himself in the bush and would spend his days off foraging. I saw him eat scented thorn seed pods in abundance and LOVED marula fruits! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THDB6BGFqhM It would appear that he did make the odd bad decision when I’d see him salivating heavily and foaming at the mouth, perhaps a lesson in learning which bugs not to eat!
The next thing to come is the tusks! Really at this stage, our physical contact with Kevin started to reduce. As the tusks grow, the bottom pair sharpen, turning into mini razor blades. Although not meaning to be aggressive, they could easily slice a leg in Kevin’s excitement to greet you! Like I say, we were very lucky to have the antelope camps as a suitable place for him to stay. The electric fence stopped him returning to the house and humans and causing any injuries.
Today, Kevin is around 2 years old and more than 40kg. When we next have a vet on the reserve we will be darting him to move him to the northern section of the reserve for release. It has been a wonderful experience, to see him grow from just 1kg to the man he is today. While there is a risk that Kevin may not survive, we feel it is important that he gets his chance in the wild, to meet other warthogs, to mate and pass on his genes - otherwise really, what was the point? His instincts have got him through on many occasions so far and we hope they will continue for when he meets his first leopard out in the bush!
For a compilation of Kevin highlights, click on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhnLHYw-dm0 and if you missed the initial post of how Kevin came to be with us, and his first few months of life you can read about that here http://www.askarivolunteers.com/recent-events-flash-news/hand-rearing-a-baby-warthog-%e2%80%93-kevin-the-piglet-at-askari/