For the Bawean warty pig, “Hakuna Matata” may not be an achievable goal -- no matter what cousin Pumba said.
The wild pig, endemic to the Indonesian island of Bawean in the Java Sea, is said to be one of the world's rarest wild animals, and according to a new study published in PLoS One, the creature may be headed for extinction.
An estimated 250 adult Bawean warty pigs remain on the island, meaning the species could be listed as endangered, or even critically endangered, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, researchers said.
Due to the very small and isolated nature of the pig population, even a minor change to their environment could cause things to “go wrong very quickly,” study co-author Mark Rademaker told National Geographic.
Using camera traps, Rademaker and his team managed to capture video footage -- for the first time ever -- of the Bawean warty pig.
There were concerns that the pig had already gone extinct, the researchers said, so when the traps confirmed the animal’s continued existence, “there was such relief and excitement, and almost dancing on the spot,” said Rademaker.
Bawean warty pigs are mainly nocturnal, and enjoy munching on roots and tubers.
“While females look very similar to wild boar, the male Bawean warty pigs has three pairs of enormous warts on each side of its face,” coauthor Johanna Rode-Margono said in a statement.
The greatest threats to the pigs’ continued survival remain unknown, though habitat loss and killings by vengeful farmers, frustrated at the pigs’ penchant for devouring crops, were pinpointed as possible concerns.
As National Geographic noted, wild pigs are frequently overlooked when it comes to conservation.
Almost “all of the world's 17 wild pig species are threatened with extinction, though few have been studied,” said the magazine.
The finding on the Bawean warty pig was said to be the first ecological study of the animal. Read it here.