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Non-Invasive Reproductive Hormone Monitoring in the Endangered Pygmy Hog (Porcula salvania)

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Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species, CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Uppal Road, Hyderabad 500007, India
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Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme (PHCP), Indira Nagar, Basistha, Guwahati, Assam 781029, India
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Aaranyak, Threatened Species Recovery Programme (TSRP), 13, Tayab Ali Byelane, Bishnu Rabha Path, Beltola, Guwahati 781028, India
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EcoSystems-India, Rare & Endangered Species Conservation Unit (RESCU), A-2 Florican Enclave, H.No.3, Basisthapur Bylane No.2, Beltola, Guwahati, Assam 781028, India
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Roy Neville Kirkwood
Animals 2021, 11(5), 1324; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051324
Received: 17 March 2021 / Revised: 28 March 2021 / Accepted: 31 March 2021 / Published: 6 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Reproduction)
The pygmy hog is one of the world’s rarest suids and classified as an endangered species. Efforts are being made to breed them in captivity and reintroduce them into the wild. In this study, we examined reproductive hormones in captive pygmy hogs using a non-invasive method by collecting 785 fecal samples from five females and two males for 12 months. High-pressure liquid chromatography was performed to examine the presence of immunoreactive progesterone and testosterone metabolites in the fecal samples. We standardized and validated enzyme immunoassays (EIA) for fecal progesterone and testosterone metabolites. Using progesterone EIA, we were able to detect pregnancies in four females and estimate the relevant gestation period. We also recorded 172 births from the captive breeding center and found strong seasonality patterns in births. In males, fecal testosterone metabolite concentrations were higher in the breeding season than in the non-breeding season as evidenced by elevated testosterone concentrations during breeding season. A significant difference in fecal progesterone metabolites concentration was observed between non-pregnant and pregnant females. This study can directly help in monitoring the reproductive status of reintroduced hogs both in the wild and in conservation breeding programs in India and elsewhere.
The pygmy hog (Porcula salvania), until recently was classified as a critically endangered suid facing the threat of extinction due to habitat degradation. Efforts are being made to protect the pygmy hog from extinction and breed them in captivity under the Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme (PHCP). However, very little information is available on the reproductive physiology of pygmy hogs. Therefore, the present study aims to standardize enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) for monitoring pregnancy and reproductive status using progesterone and testosterone metabolites. A total of 785 fecal samples were collected from five females and two males over a period of one year from the PHCP Research and Breeding Centre, Guwahati, Assam. High-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis revealed the presence of immunoreactive progesterone and testosterone metabolites in feces. Mating was observed in all five females, and four of them gave birth successfully. We were able to detect pregnancy using fecal progesterone metabolites. The mean gestation period, based on mating and parturition, was estimated to be 153.25 days from the four females studied. The breeding center recorded 172 births between 1996 and 2000 and found strong seasonal patterns in the birth rate, with most of the births occurring between May and June. In the males, fecal testosterone metabolites were significantly higher in the breeding season than in the non-breeding season. This is the first study on the subject and will help with future breeding programs in other captive breeding centers and with reproductive monitoring of reintroduced populations. View Full-Text
Keywords: pygmy hog; Porcula salvania; progesterone; testosterone; fecal hormone; pregnancy detection; Assam pygmy hog; Porcula salvania; progesterone; testosterone; fecal hormone; pregnancy detection; Assam
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kumar, V.; Buragohain, S.; Deka, P.J.; Narayan, G.; Umapathy, G. Non-Invasive Reproductive Hormone Monitoring in the Endangered Pygmy Hog (Porcula salvania). Animals 2021, 11, 1324. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051324

AMA Style

Kumar V, Buragohain S, Deka PJ, Narayan G, Umapathy G. Non-Invasive Reproductive Hormone Monitoring in the Endangered Pygmy Hog (Porcula salvania). Animals. 2021; 11(5):1324. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051324

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kumar, Vinod, Shyamalima Buragohain, Parag J. Deka, Goutam Narayan, and Govindhaswamy Umapathy. 2021. "Non-Invasive Reproductive Hormone Monitoring in the Endangered Pygmy Hog (Porcula salvania)" Animals 11, no. 5: 1324. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051324

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