Here’s one pig who is finally getting his moment in the sun.
The rare Bawean warty pig, native to Bawean Island of Indonesia, has now been photographed, counted and currently stands as the subject of its own profile piece in the open-access scientific journal Plos One.
Southeast Asia has the highest wild pig diversity on the planet, owing to historical sea level fluctuations which have repeatedly connected and then isolated various animal species on separate islands, sometimes in small numbers. The recent study of the Bawean warty pig is no exception, with researchers estimating that somewhere between 172 and 377 of the pigs exist on the 192 km2 island of Bawean in the Java Sea, with an estimate of 3.7 to 8.1 pigs per km2.
“Due to a lack of quantitative ecological research, understanding of natural history and conservation requirements have so far been based solely on anecdotal information from interviews with local people and study of captive and museum specimens,” say the study’s authors. “In this study we provide the first assessment of population and habitat preferences for S. blouchi by using camera trapping.”
The Bawean warty pig is named for the three pairs of facial warts. As the pigs age, the warts grow in size.
The joint study involved scientists from the Netherlands, Indonesia, Australia, the United Kingdom and from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, and used cameras set up at 100 locations in the forests of Bawean over a two month period to capture 92 separate videos of the island’s warty pig, species name Sus blouchi, thus giving researchers plenty of evidence with which to draw conclusions about the animals activity patterns, habitat and behaviours. (You can see video of S. blouchi here.)
Lead author Mark Rademaker of the VHL University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands was able to get an in-person experience of the pig, saying “Out of the blue there was a fully grown male in front of me, with these big warts and long, white sideburns fanning out from his head. We looked at each other for what felt like an eternity—perhaps it was only a split second—and he just took off into the bushes. I still like to think about that moment.”
Based on the researchers’ findings they were able to conclude that the Bawean warty pig should be listed as Endangered, primarily due to the low population size. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) provides the currently accepted criteria for categorizing species as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable, and the IUCN states that any species with population estimates at fewer than 250 individuals should be listed as Endangered, fitting the researchers’ guesses for the Bawean warty pig.
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The wild pigs of Southeast Asia are currently under threat. In 2013 the IUCN Wild Pig Specialist Group organized a workshop on Southeast Asia wild pigs to develop conservation plans for the threatened animals, but for the Bawean warty pig, not enough information was known at the time to determine its conservation status, hence the value of the present study.
An added conclusion from the study was that S. blouchi was found to be the only species of warty pig living on Bawean Island, as researchers found no sign of its equally warty cousin S. scrofa.
Below: Bawean Warty Pig Population Down to About 250…