Since we returned from the US at the end of July, we haven’t seen Tiny, who, along with Little, was our favorite warthog. Expressive faces, eye contact, and response to the names we’ve given them, these two warthogs always make me smile. On the other hand, Tom isn’t quite as attached for me but has kept an eye out for Tiny when we haven’t seen him since we’d returned.
Little often visits two or three times a day, seldom missing a day. If we don’t see him during any day, we can always count on him stopping by around 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs. He loves to appear when we are sitting on the veranda, ensuring he gets our attention to toss him pellets. This always makes us laugh.
Day after day, we continually check every giant tusked warthog to see if it’s Tiny, keeping in mind many such animals look very similar. But over the years we’ve spent in Marloth Park, we have learned to 0observe identifying characteristics that distinguish one animal of a particular species from one another.
Such characteristics on warthogs include:
- Size of tusks and variance in each tusk’s size
- Size of facial warts on males on both their cheeks and temples. Females don’t have facial warts and small temple warts but have white whiskers in varying sizes that aid in identifying them.
- Body size can vary considerably, but, along with the above, it helps identify warthogs.
- Bags under the eyes, most prominent in older males
- Personality – it’s easy to detect a particular warthog when they are overly timid or bossy (Little is bossy and persistent while Tiny was not) along with the other identifying characteristics
- They appeared alone, as a twosome or with more warthogs, with “sounders” as small as three, as large as ten or more. Often males are “friends” and graze the bush together and groom each other. It’s a rarity to see females together without piglets. Moms will often hang out with another mom and her young, supporting each other and even going as far as nursing each other’s piglets.
We must admit we are more interested in male warthogs based on their seemingly more quirky behavior. As I write this, there is a lone female in the garden, whom we call Lonely Girl. She is shy without much of a distinctive personality. And yet, there are many male warthogs we see over a week that we can easily identify as a regular or new visitors.
We only observe one or two new male visitors each week. They eat and wander off, never to return. Daily, we see “regulars,” all of whom we enjoy and seem to respond to their various names and the sounds of our voices. Tom isn’t as excited about warthogs as I am, but as mentioned above, when I am busy indoors, he keeps an out watchful eye, always looking for Tiny.
Regardless of what I am doing, when he tells me there’s a large, sizeable-tusked warthog with huge, droopy warts on his face on the premises, I come running outside with the camera to see if it’s Tiny. Sadly, time after time, we’ve been disappointed.
Was he culled while we were away? We haven’t heard that warthogs have been culled in the past few months. Most impalas and kudus were taken to Lionspruit to thin out the huge populations in Marloth Park and provide food for the lions, Fluffy and Desi, who reside in Lionspruit, henceforth the name.
Yesterday, Tom hollered out to me when I was in the house, “Hurry,” he said, “There’s a large pig with big tusks in the garden.” I grabbed my phone to quickly bring up a photo of Tiny I have on my home screen. I was extremely excited that it was him upon first inspection.
However, when comparing the photo of Tiny with the new visitor, we both sadly realized it wasn’t him. Now, we wonder if we’ll ever see him again in our remaining three and a half months in Marloth Park. It’s hard to say. He was huge, and he looked very old. He could easily have died from old age or illness, been hit by a car, or made his way under the fence into Kruger National Park, never to return. We’ll never know. He, like Little, was a loner.
On occasion, Little appears with the same female and two fast-growing female piglets. We referred to them as his “family” since the otherwise greedy pig doesn’t share food with anyone but them. Like many animals in the wild, generally, fathers don’t participate in the upbringing of their young. It’s always fun to see ostriches, who can remain as a mating pair for life, and the dad is equally responsible for rearing the chicks.
In any case, we’ll continue to keep an eye out for Tiny and hope we’ll be able to post a new photo of him if and when he returns.
Have a fantastic weekend!
Photo from one year ago today, October 8, 2020:
|This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #199. Like all animals in the wild, this female lion is constantly on the lookout for the next meal to feed her cubs, who were lying under this tree. For more photos, please click here.|