The Bawean warty pig is one of the world’s rarest wild animals, and a recent video marks the first time the animal was ever captured on film. But the bad news, according to the researchers behind that video, is that its time may be numbered.
According to researchers who published their study this week in PLoS One, the Bawean warty pig calls the Indonesian island of Bawean as its home. It is believed to be one of the rarest wild creatures out there, and with its count currently at 250 in its home island, it may be in danger of going extinct soon. Still, it was something that the researchers were able to catch the rare pig on film.
“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,”said study co-author Mark Rademaker of the VHL University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam. “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.”
Considering the small count of warty pigs on Bawean, the species is believed to be likely critically endangered per the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s guidelines, said the researchers. Rademaker said that even tiny changes to their environment could result in things “going wrong very quickly,” spelling doom for the species if such an event happens.
Rademaker and his fellow researchers used camera traps to catch the pigs in action and observe their behaviors. The animals are mainly nocturnal creatures, and tend to eat roots and tubers. Co-author Johanna Rode-Margono noted that females look very similar to wild boars, but males stand out for having “three pairs of enormous warts” on the left and right sides of their face.
The scientists are still unsure of the top threats to the pigs’ survival, but killings by farmers and habitat loss were cited as possible reasons. Farmers, after all, may have been irritated by how the Bawean warty pigs feast on their crops.