Conservation news

Did you know that a group of warthogs is called a sounder? Candid Animal Cam

  • Every two weeks, Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our writer and conservation scientist.

Camera traps bring you closer to the secretive natural world and are an important conservation tool to study wildlife. This week we’re meeting the common warthogs.

Common warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus) are part of the pig family and are found in the grasslands, savannas, and woodlands of Africa. They have an unfortunate name that comes from their facial warts which can grow as long as 15 cm. Another characteristic feature is their black or sometimes brown mane that goes down the spine to the middle of the back. Because their fur coat is sparse and they do not have subcutaneous fat, warthogs are susceptible to extreme environmental temperatures. For this reason, on hot days, they need areas like wallows to cool off and when temperatures drop, they need burrows to stay warm.

Warthogs are omnivorous animals, so they eat a variety of food. To reach lower grasses or insects, they will kneel with their front feet backward. Their knees have paddings so that makes it easier for them to move around. The common warthog’s main predators in the wild are lions, leopards, cheetahs, crocodiles, wild dogs and hyenas. Their primary defense is to flee and they can run at speeds of up to 48 km/h. They will run with their tails upright to signal other warthogs of danger. Then, if they can, they will reverse into their dens and use their tusks to protect themselves if necessary. Watch the video to learn more about this species!

Special thanks to Dr. Meredith Palmer and Dr. Justine Becker for sharing their footage with us, and Erin Phillips for providing the audio clip about warthog behavior. The footage is part of a camera trap study to investigate how prey animals (like wildebeest, zebra, and impala) respond to complex carnivore guilds and the reintroduction of locally-extinct predators (like lions, cheetah, hyena, leopards, and African wild dogs). The camera traps are triggered to play predator sounds when triggered, and then video record animal responses.

Banner photo by Romi Castagnino.


Romi Castagnino is Mongabay’s bilingual writer. Find her on Twitter and Instagram: @romi_castagnino