Tag Archives: Sulawesi

Biodiversity challenge – Sulawesi babirusa

Just because my teeth are curly
Sulawesi babirusa by Becky Richardson Senisse

Sulawesi babirusa by Becky Richardson Senisse

Curious creatures,
Ferocious features:
The two tusketeers,
Part pig, part deer.
Long in the tooth,
Last flush of youth.
Canine-clad rivals,
The early arrivals,
Eager for kicks
And a sodium fix.
First the refuelling,
Then ritual duelling.

babirusa_virginia_potter

Sulawesi babirusa, Oil on panel by Virginia Potter

Porcine posing,
It won’t be pretty;
Curly burly
In salt lick city.
Two legs good
For a stand-up fight;
Boxing babirusas,
A wondrous sight.
Hot rock hog trot,
Once round the wallow.
Swine lake ballet,
Hard to swallow.

You’re not going crazy,
Pigs dance in Sulawesi.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter,
2014

Species profile: Sulawesi babirusa

IUCN Red List Category: Vulnerable

This remarkable pig is confined to undisturbed rainforest on Sulawesi, Indonesia’s fourth largest island. Babirusa literally means ‘pig deer’. The curly tusks sported by the males are the upper canine teeth, which grow upwards out of the snout. One of the babirusa’s last remaining strongholds is the Nantu Wildllife Sanctuary, which has a natural salt lick where these social pigs often gather to chew the sodium-rich volcanic rock and drink from the hot springs. The males fight by rearing up on their hind legs and ‘dancing’. The babirusa and its rainforest habitat are under severe threat. Forest clearance and illegal poaching for meat have reduced the population to an estimated 5,000 individuals. Logging activity is opening up areas previously inaccessible to hunters, increasing the pressure on this charismatic species.