Researchers on the island of Java have discovered populations of an almost extinct species that is regarded as the “world’s ugliest pig”. The population of the Javan warty pig, listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is estimated to have decreased by as much as 50% since 1982.
It was even feared that many, if not all, populations of the Javan warty pig had become extinct until their existence was confirmed by our camera traps. The plight of the animals reveals the cost of hunting and the destruction of forest habitat in Indonesia.
The scientific research we’re supporting, is working to understand the little known animals and any steps that need to be taken in their long-term conservation. It could eventually be used to establish new protection laws for the species as currently they’re not protected by Indonesian law.
Dr Johanna Rode-Margono, South East Asia Field Programme Coordinator at Chester Zoo, designed the study to try and locate the last Javan warty pigs alongside Indonesian researcher and Project Manager Shafia Zahra. Johanna tells us more below:
“Javan warty pigs are of a similar body size to European wild boar but are a bit more slender and have longer heads. Males have three pairs of enormous warts on their faces. It is these characteristics that have led to them being affectionately labelled as ‘the world’s ugliest pig’ but, certainly to us and our researchers, they are rather beautiful and impressive.
Indeed the Javan warty pig is a special animal. They are unique and can only be found in Java. Little is known about them and that very fact means we need to preserve them. We just don’t know what havoc it could wreak for other wildlife if they go extinct.
Watch the below interview with Shafia, which also includes some of the first ever wild footage our cameras captured of the Javan warty pig, to discover more about the research she’s been carrying out in Java below:
Out of the seven locations surveyed by Shafia, 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.
The second phase of the project is now underway to try and estimate the exact population size of the Javan warty pig and assess the impact that hunting is having on the species.