The Javan Warty Pig, Sus verrucosus, is an endangered wild pig species endemic to Java and associated offshore islands (Indonesia). Population numbers remain unknown and habitat destruction in the form of transformation of natural forest into production forest and hunting have been the main causes for the decline of the species. Today, the animal lives in a very small fragmented habitat and under intense pressure for its survival. The population survey conducted in 2003/2004 and the International meeting on the strategy for conserving the Javan Warty Pig in 2006, both recommended the establishment of a captive breeding program of Javan Warty Pigs in Indonesia for the ultimate purpose of re-introduction.
The output of the project would be the availability of enough genetically sound captive Sus verrucosus which can be used for a re-introduction program, as well as for studying the biology of this poorly known species, whereas the long term aim of the project would be to establish a viable, free ranging population in parts of the historical distribution area of the species. Simultaneously with the development of captive breeding, a molecular study needs to be done as there are no data available to distinguish pure S. verrucosus from hybrids of S. verrucosus and the widespread wild boar S. scrofa.
Current Conservation Status
S. verrucosus was feared to be nearly extinct in the late 1970s, but a small population was found in 1981 on the forested slopes of Mt. Penanggungan near Tretes, East Java (Whitten et al. 1996). The 1982 survey by Blouch located several more populations across Java, and he reported diverse threats to the species’ survival, such as hunting and poisoning. Still, Blouch (1988) concluded that the future of S. verrucosus was relatively safe. However, Blouch and Groves (1990) pointed out that hybridization between S. verrucosus and S. scrofa posed an unknown, but potentially serious threat, primarily to the survival of the former species.
Since the political upheaval in Indonesia between 1996-1998, the teak forests of Java, which are important S. verrucosus habitat have come under increasing threat from illegal logging. Teak theft has been reported from all over Java (e.g Jakarta Post, August 15, 2001; August 22, 2001; August 27, 2001; and Chicago Tribune, July 08, 2001). The state-owned forest company PT Perhutani claimed to have lost US$ 49 million worth of teak trees in 2000 because of widespread theft from its forestry concessions in Java (Jakarta Post, June 09, 2001). It is yet unclear how this timber poaching has affected the S. verrucosus populations, but the few available data indicate a decline and severe fragmentation of the few remaining wild populations.
In 2000, S. verrucosus was up-graded as “Endangered” in the International red list (IUCN 2000). The IUCN/SSC Action Plan (Oliver, 1993) accorded the species very high conservation priority, and stressed the urgency of implementing relevant conservation measures – including the survey in 2004. Until now, there has been no follow-up to the conservation recommendations given by Blouch (1988) and Oliver (1993).
The latest report (Semiadi & Meijaard 2004 & 2006) indicated that hunting, mainly as means of controlling agricultural pest, and the loss of suitable habitat are the major threats. The decrease of the population has started 10 years ago and keeps continuing. This situation resulted in highly fragmented small populations at present. Pig hunters generally use fire guns and hunting dogs, and some people use poison or snares. In rural areas, there appears to be little awareness of the population status of the pig. The difficulty in distinguishing between Sus scrofa and Sus verrucosus results in hunters killing these both species indiscriminately. Also there is a serious lack of knowledge on many aspects of biology, ecology and reproduction of this animal.