Genetic variability is an important component in the ability of populations to evolve and adapt to changing environmental conditions and consequently for their long-term survival. Here we report the first description of both nuclear loci and mitochondrial control region sequence variability in a population of the desert warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus) sampled from 12 localities in its natural range in eastern Africa. From the total sample (30 individuals), at the six microsatellite loci that were analysed, a total of 43 alleles was observed averaging seven alleles per locus. Expected heterozygosity (HE) per locus was high, ranging from 0.53 to 0.87. At the mitochondrial loci, nucleotide diversity was low (p = 0.12%) with two unique haplotypes observed from the 19 individuals that amplified successfully. The diversity indices observed in the desert warthog are comparable to those previously reported for the closely related but widespread species, the common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus). These results suggest that the desert warthog is not genetically depauperate despite the rinderpest epidemic of the 1880s that eliminated it from most of its natural range.
South African Journal of Wildlife Research, 2012, Vol 42, Issue 1, p. 54-59