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The warthog is a tough, sturdy animal. Males weigh 9 to 23 kilograms (20 to 50 pounds) more than females, but both are distinguished by disproportionately large heads and “warts” — thick protective pads that appear on both sides of the head. Their large tusks are unusual: the two upper tusks emerge from the sides of the snout to form a semicircle; the lower tusks, at the base of the uppers, are worn to a sharp cutting edge. Sparse bristles cover their body, and longer bristles form a mane from the top of the head down the spine to the middle of the back. Their long tail ends with a tuft of bristles. Warthogs characteristically carry their tails upright when they run, the tuft waving like a tiny flag.

Warthogs are killed for raiding wheat, rice, beans, or groundnut fields. In some agricultural areas, people are also eliminating this species, as they can potentially carry African swine fever.