Warthog Research

Distribution, Abundance, Ecology, and Conservation Status of the Desert Warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus) in Northern Kenya

Yvonne A. de Jong, PhD & Thomas M. Butynski, PhD

Research project funded by the National Geographic Society. May 2012 - December 2013


Two species of warthog are now widely recognized, the Common Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) and the Desert Warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus). These two suids belong to two deeply divergent monophyletic lineages that probably originated at the end of the Pliocene (ca. 4.5 million years ago). Phacochoerus africanus is widespread in Africa while P. aethiopicus appears to be restricted to the Horn of Africa. The distribution, abundance, ecology, behavior, and conservation status of P. aethiopicus are pooly known. Indeed, P. aethiopicus may be Africa's least known large mammal. Phacochoerus aethiopicus appears to be the most specialized of all suids in terms of its morphlogy and (arid) habitat. A better understanding of the distribution, abundance, habitat requirements, ecology and behavior of P. aethiopicus is not only of considerable scientific interest, it is important to the development of effective conservation and management plans for this species.

The primary objectives of this project are to: (1) Obtain information on the distribution and abundance of P. aethiopicus and P. africanus in northwestern and north-central Kenya; (2) Establish a baseline against which long-term trends in distribution and abundance of both warthog species can be determined and evaluated for the region; (3) Obtain a large body of new ecological and behavioral data; (4) Reassess the conservation status of both warthog species for the region.

For more information about this research project, please read our blogs on the National Geographic Explorers Website: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/author/yvonnedejong/ and view the Warthog Photographic Map on www.wildsolutions.nl