Philippine Warty Pig: “Call me Elvis”

Philippine Warty Pig   © Jojie Alcantara
Philippine Warty Pig © Jojie Alcantara

Behind this cool air of a tough looking wild boar with the Elvis slick mane, lies a sad truth for their dwindling species.

The Philippine Warty Pig (Sus philippensis) is one of four known pig species endemic to the Philippines. The other three endemic species are the Visayan Warty Pig (S. cebifrons), Mindoro Warty Pig (S. oliveri) and the Palawan Bearded Pig (S. ahoenobarbus), also being rare members of the Suidae family.  Philippine Warty Pigs have two pairs of warts, with a tuft of hair extending outwards from the warts closest to the jaw.

With loss of its natural habitat from deforestation and uncontrolled logging and hunting, Philippine Warty Pigs have been forced into close contact with domestic pigs (Sus scrofa domestica) and hybridization between the two species has been reported.  Accordingly, genetic contamination of Philippine Warty Pig stock is a real and irreversible problem.

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species**, it is listed as Vulnerable because it is currently undergoing a drastic population decline, estimated to be more than 30% over a period of three generations (estimated to be about 21 years), inferred from the apparent disappearance of several populations, and the effects of over-hunting, habitat loss and hybridization.

Most remaining populations of these animals are now widely fragmented and declining, and likely to face extinction, or may already be extinct on some islands (e.g. Marinduque), as a result of former widespread commercial logging operations, continued low-level illegal logging and agricultural expansion (particularly slash-and-burn cultivation or ‘kaingin’) and hunting pressure. Hunting is mostly practiced by local farmers and indigenous peoples in hinterland communities and recreational hunters from larger cities. Both of these groups also sell any surplus meat which usually commands at least twice the price of domestic pork in local markets and specialty restaurants.

S. philippensis is now fully protected by Philippine law, though enforcement of protection measures is generally poor in most areas, including many ‘protected areas’, owing to lack of resources and other factors.

**The IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria are intended to be an easily and widely understood system for classifying species at high risk of global extinction.

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