12 27/12/2017

Javan warty pig project wins a conservation grant award!

We have been tracing the last populations of the elusive endangered Javan warty pig (Sus verrucosus) since 2016 to gain crucial knowledge for the conservation management of the species and have now won a conservation grant award!

Javan warty pig

The Javan warty pig (Sus verrucosus) is endemic to Java, Indonesia, and is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List (IUCN 2008), but is not currently protected nationally. Characterised by three pairs of facial warts exhibited by males, the species is mainly threatened due to habitat loss and hunting for either leisure or crop-protection.

An interview-based survey from 2004 found a 53% decline in populations since 1982. The current geographical distribution and population sizes were unknown.

Dr Johanna Rode-Margono, Chester Zoo’s South East Asia Programme Coordinator says:

Assuming that the decline detected in 2004 is ongoing, we’re worried that the species may be already locally extinct in many locations and may even be in immediate risk of becoming extinct. No wild population was confirmed by direct sightings.
Javan warty pig
Camera trap image of a Javan warty pig (Sus verrucosus)
The aim of the first project phase from 2016 – 2017, led by Dr Johanna Rode-Margono, was to confirm extant populations of the species, assess relative abundances at each study site, investigate existent threats, and increase the knowledge about ecology and habitat requirements of the species. Increasing the knowledge of the species ecology and distribution is a key step to protect this endangered species.

Out of the seven locations surveyed by Shafia Zahra, Project Manager based in Indonesia, across Java between June 2016 and May 2017, only four sites were found to have pig present, meaning that the species is highly likely to be extinct in the other three. 

Javan warty pig project

In addition of this new crucial distribution data the team also managed to collect the first ever, never-seen before footage of Javan warty pigs in the wild! A total of 17 independent videos of clearly recognisable Javan warty pigs were recorded at two of the sites.

The second phase of the project is currently being launched and will last for a year and a half. The aims of this second phase are to estimate the population size of the Javan warty pigs, investigate the potential competition and hybridisation of the pigs with non-native wild boars and also assess the impact that hunting have on the endangered pig species.  

Javan warty pig project

Discover more from Shafia, the research she’s been carrying out and see more footage of the Javan warty pigs captured on camera trap, on our Act for Wildlife blog, here >

Amy Treanor, Chester Zoo Mammal Curatorial Assistant, recently presented the project’s findings at the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) working mammal group workshop on behalf of Dr Johanna Rode-Margono, for a chance to win a £1000 grant to go towards the conservation project. Our project was voted by the workshop attendees as the winner which is fantastic news for the future developments of the project. The awarded grant celebrates the achievements of the project up to date and will be used for the future activities.

Johanna explains:

I am very happy to have been awarded this grant for the pigs. Pigs are a little bit the underdogs, usually being less popular than other species. Having won the award against highly charismatic species makes us proud and shows that we were able to demonstrate very important work to save this species. Some people call the warty pigs ugly, but for us they are as beautiful as orangutans and elephants!

Learn more about the project here >