World’s Rarest Pig Caught on Camera for the First Time

April 8, 2016 | Joanne Kennell

Bawean wary pig
Photo credit: Snapshot from the video posted by Johanna Rode

It is estimated that there are less than 250 mature pigs remaining on the small Indonesian island.

Bawean warty pigs (Sus blouchi) are found solely on the small Bawean Island — just 192-square-kilometers (74-square-miles) — located in Indonesia’s Java Sea. Until recently, not much was known about the species since most information about the pig’s behavior and conservation needs was gathered from examining museum specimens and interviewing the locals.

Mark Rademaker, from the VHL University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, told National Geographic, we don’t know that much about the Bawean warty pig simply because most scientists aren’t interested in studying the genus of animals more popularly known as bacon. Even though nearly all of the world’s 17 wild pig species are threatened with extinction, few have been studied.

So, to get a better understanding of the species, Rademaker and colleagues recorded footage of wild Bawean warty pigs over three months using camera traps at over 100 locations to estimate the species’ population size, activity patterns, and preferred habitats.

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Rademaker then published the first ever ecological study of the animal on April 6 in the journal PLOS ONE. What the researchers discovered is that the Bawean warty pig has a very low population density compared to other pig species in Southeast Asia. The team estimated that the total population is fewer than 250 mature individuals.

According to New Scientist, although much of the center of Bawean Island was declared protected in the 1930s, the Bawean warty pig currently has no protection under Indonesian law. However, with its small population, along with the animal’s very limited range, the pig qualifies for endangered status at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, where Rademaker is a member of the wild-pig specialist group.

The researchers also learned that the pigs are mainly nocturnal, and prefer to forage in community-owned forests and near forest borders. These areas often contain energy-rich food for pigs, such as roots and tubers. However, this habitat preference makes them vulnerable to conflict with local communities.

Bawean warty pigs were previously considered to be a dwarf relative of the Javan warty pig (Sus verrucosus), but has now been designated as its own species. This is because it is smaller and has three scent lobes on the back of its front legs, rather than the four found on the Javan pig.

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According to some, the pigs probably are not be cute enough to bring TV camera crews rushing to capture footage of the warty pig — but I disagree.

“While females look very similar to wild boar the male Bawean warty pigs has three pairs of enormous warts on each side of its face,” Johanna Rode-Margono, co-author and a wild-pig specialist from the North of England Zoological Society in the UK, explained in a press release.

Further research is required to learn more about the species, but this study of the Bawean pig may provide important initial information about its ecology and conservation needs. As Rode-Margono stated in the press release, “Only less than 250 mature animals occur on the island of Bawean, making them one of the rarest pig species on earth.”

Watch the video below, titled “Bawean Endemics Conservation Initiative: Saving the endemic Bawean warty pig,” to see these cuties in their natural habitat.


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