That’s why they call me swine
When I was young they christened me the babirusa kid,
But once I started sprouting tusks, the jokers made a bid
To change it ’round to ‘Antler Face’; I was ‘Spikehead’ for a while,
Then ‘Ugly Mug’ and ‘Tooth Medusa’ used to make ’em smile;
And then, thanks to the scientists, I learned another term
When someone shouted: ‘Fellas, hey! A porcine pachyderm!’
But I don’t give a fig. I’m an extraordinary pig:
Well, just because my teeth are curly,
And just because my frame is burly;
Just because I always keep them guessing,
Wear my genes like a pig of means
(He’s visually unprepossessing);
Just because I’m happy wrinkled,
Drink mineral water, never wine;
Just because my body’s hairy,
– Visage slightly scary,
That’s why they call me swine.
(With thanks to Cecil Mack)
© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014
Just because my teeth are curly
The two tusketeers,
Part pig, part deer.
Long in the tooth,
Last flush of youth.
The early arrivals,
Eager for kicks
And a sodium fix.
First the refuelling,
Then ritual duelling.
It won’t be pretty;
In salt lick city.
Two legs good
For a stand-up fight;
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,
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.