The only pig species known to migrate: the bearded pig

By Romina Castagnino 

Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our associate video editor and conservation scientist.

Camera traps bring you closer to the secretive natural world and are an important conservation tool to study wildlife. In this episode we’re meeting the only pig species known to migrate: the bearded pig.

The bearded pig (Sus barbatus), also known as the Bornean bearded pig, lives in Southeast Asia. It is well adapted to life in tropical rainforests, however, it also inhabits beaches, mangroves, and montane cloud forests. Bearded pigs are recognized by their prominent beard with hairs up to 15 cm long. In males, the beard hides two pairs of small facial warts.

Bearded pigs are very social and live in groups that consist of mothers and their young. These groups often join up and form big herds of up to several hundred individuals. Adult males are usually solitary and come to groups only during the breeding season. 

Although for most of the year, bearded pigs live in one location in a stable family group, once a year, hundreds of them come together to partake in a large migration, sometimes swimming between islands. During migration, bearded pigs shift to nighttime activity to travel at night and take shelter in the woods during the day. These large-scale movements, which may cover between 30 to 600 km, seem to respond to mass fruiting events in the forest. 

Due to their lack of shyness during migration and predictable times and routes of migrations, bearded pigs are easily hunted by humans for their meat. Other threats include the conversion of forests for logging and agriculture, particularly oil palm and rubber, and fragmentation of remaining habitat. The bearded pig is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN. Watch the video to learn more about this species!

Special thanks to Jonathan Moore for sharing his camera trap footage. You can follow him on Twitter at @Jonatha81270041.

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