At Ilala Lodge, some of our most frequent visitors are uninvited guests who consistently make pigs of themselves in full view of our other guests. However, being the truly hospitable Victoria Falls accommodation provider that we are, we welcome them, warts and all, whenever they visit.
We are, of course, referring to the family of warthogs that have become a regular fixture on the grounds of Ilala Lodge. Since they are settling in rather nicely, we have made the effort to get to know our warthogs a little better, and this is what we found out:
- Warthogs’ scientific name, Phacochoerus africanus, is derived from the Greek words, phakos for ‘wart’ and koiros, meaning ‘pig’.
- A group of warthogs is called a ‘sounder’ and usually consists of a female with her offspring and occasionally another female. Male warthogs are solitary and do not mingle unless they are courting a lady.
- Female warthogs have four teats, with each piglet suckling only from its designated teat. Even if one of the youngsters dies, the others will not take over the available spot. Thus, female warthogs rarely have more than four offspring at a time.
- Despite their fearsome appearance, warthogs are peaceful creatures and will flee for shelter, with their tails sticking straight up in the air, at the slightest provocation.
- They typically use the burrows of other animals, such as aardvarks, as a safe haven and as a den for their young, or dig their own by using their tusks.
- Although warthog are mostly seen bowed on their padded knees grazing, their tusks and snout are useful for unearthing bulbs, tubers and roots to eat and as a means of defence when needed.