Thursday, July 8, 2010

written in ink that slowly fades away

Pig society is smell-bound.

Almost everything pigs do
is determined
in some
by odor.

Scent-marking and scent-reading help to define these limits and to cement social communication.

In our attempts to make sense of systems that are beyond our sensory grasp, I suspect that we disparage some scent-laying practices by passing them off as “territorial markings.” The fact is that pigs are not really territorial at all but operate movable home ranges, shifting these as they adapt to the seasons. They are generous with their secretions for a different reason, one that has more to do with identity than property. They are protecting themselves, rather than their surroundings, finding security in society instead of territory, laying down olfactory perimeters that are flexible.

.... Every warthog lives in a world filled with messages from every other warthog in the area – so that each one knows exactly where everyone else is, how they are, what they have been eating, and how long ago they passed this way.  

It must be like getting lots of letters every day from all your friends and family, letters filled with news and gossip, but written in ink that slowly fades away.

- Lyall Watson
Whole Hog: Exploring the Extraordinary Potential of Pigs

Phacochoerus Africanus Hells Gate National Park, Kenya Joachim Huber
Warthog in Ngorongor Nicor
Illustration: Musical Book Lura Astor