It’s just as well looks aren’t everything with the babirusa. A face full of twisted tusks, a large wet snout, warts and being almost hairless, it is one of the most bizarre looking animals!
Its name, which translates to ‘pig deer’ and refers to its appearance, has even inspired local Indonesian people to make demonic masks based on the animal’s unique looks.
They’re not the prettiest of animals but what they lack in good looks they make up for in intelligence and inventiveness.
The unusual tusks of the male are actually the babirusa’s upper canines! The function of these peculiar tusks is not clear and they can be quite brittle meaning they’re rarely used in battle.
As Sulawesi has many volcanoes across its land, deposits of salt can be found near hot springs, and sometimes you can find the babirusa spending time chewing on rocks, eating the soil and drinking the water from the hot spring. These salt licks tend to act as a place for many social activities such as courtship and combat.
The babirusa was once thought to be reasonably common but the animal has largely disappeared from some areas of Sulawesi and is under pressure from being hunted – despite being protected under Indonesian law.