Thursday, August 21, 2014

Central African Warthog

My previous post on the desert warthog noted that there is another species of warthog, the common warthog. The common warthog is much more widespread. There are four subspecies of the common warthog which cover most of central Africa, from West Africa to East Africa, and much of southern Africa, excluding large swatches of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. The subspecies we saw was the Central African warthog. One source says the Central African warthog is found in Kenya and Tanzania. A different source also includes the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Malawi and Angola.
I can find little on the differentiation of the four subspecies, but it looks like most of it is based on the size of the skull. Those in West Africa have larger skulls than those in Central and East Africa and those in southern Africa are smaller still. I'm sure those skull differences translate into outward differences, but I don't know any of the specifics.

The warthog has two pairs of tusks which protrude upwards out of the side of the mouth, the larger ones from the upper jaw and the smaller ones from the lower jaw. The lower tusks rub against the upper tusks each time the mouth is open and closed, making them extremely sharp. As the tusks grow, they curve inwards and backwards. The upper tusks can get up to 10 inches long.
About as ugly as you could conjure up. A Central African warthog in Ngorongoro Crater. Photo by Mark Edwards.
It has four large wart-like protrusions on the head. The largest pair juts out just beneath and to the outside of each eye. In the desert warthog, the largest protrusions hook downward. In the common warthog, they are cone shaped. The smaller pair of protrusions are further down the face, just above the tusks on the upper jaw.
A good view of the wart-like protrusions and both sets of tusks. Also note the pointed ears which differ from the desert warthog.
A different angle shows how far out the protrusions jut from the side of the head.
The warthog has a mane going down the spine from the back of the head to the middle of the back. The mane is darker on the common warthog than on the desert warthog.
A good view of the mane and tail at rest. Photo by Esmee Tooke.
It has a long thin tail with a tuft of hair at the end which distinctively stands straight up when it is trotting along.
One of my favorite sights. Warthogs running in the bush with tails standing straight up. This is in Serengeti NP. 
Photo by John Mirau.
I believe we saw warthogs every place we visited except Mt. Kenya and Nairobi NP. We got by far our best views of them in Ngorongoro Crater where they seemed less skittish and we got much closer to them. 


  1. Ever since Pumba in The Lion King I've had a special place in my heart for warthogs. I loved seeing them! My sympathy for their ugliness overcame any repulsion.

  2. I was marveling at their ugliness right up to that picture with their tails in the air. That is just so undignified, you can't help but smile.