Giant Forest Hog

In 1904 zoologists were surprised at the discovery of the giant forest hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni), only three years after the okapi was found. The latter was widely assumed to be the last major mammal yet uncatalogued. Not to be confused with the wild boar of oak woods and warthog of arid lands, the long-rumored giant forest hog of the tropical jungles was discovered and documented in Kenya.

Sightings of the worlds largest wild swine had been recorded since 1688, when reports came out of what is now Liberia. Between 1888 and 1890, during his famous expedition to the Congo, Sir Henry Stanley collected accounts. He failed, however, to capture the elusive beast.

Lieutenant Richard Meinertzhagen of the British East African Rifles took up the challenge. On two occasions in early 1904 locals showed him recently killed giant forest hogs on the slopes of Mount Kenya. He obtained two whole skins. Soon afterward, in May, Meinertzhagen finally came upon a dead specimen near Lake Victoria in Nandi country. Its skull was enormous—three feet in length. He sent the evidence (including an older skull) to scientists in London. In response he was shocked to learn that the giant ground hog was an entirely new species; indeed, it constituted a brand-new genus.

The giant forest hog is three feet high and seven feet long. It has a pair of massive, curved tusks from its upper mandibles, and a pair of strange warts that look like fungus under its eyes, covering most of the middle of its face. Highly vocal, the animals emit a barking call that carries over long distances.

Today, three known but rare populations of the giant forest hog exist in the thick jungles of Kenya-Tanzania, bordering Lake Victoria, into northeastern Congo (Zaire) and southern Ethiopia; Cameroon and the People’s Republic of Congo; and West Africa, from Ghana, through the Ivory Coast into Liberia. The most westerly population is now officially endangered. Karl Shuker thinks, based on so-far-unconfirmed reports from Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, that there may be a fourth population.


The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters,Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature
Written by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark – Copyright 1999 Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark

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