Green Wednesday: Babirusa!!

on 26 Sep 2012 
Babirusa at the Singapore Zoo

The babirusas are a genus, Babyrousa, in the pig family found in the Indonesian islands of Sulawesi, Togian, Sula and Buru.

Babirusa are notable for the long upper canines in the males. The upper canines of male babirusa emerge vertically from the alveolar process, penetrating though the skin and curving backward over the front of the face and towards the forehead. The lower canines also grow upwards. The canines of the female are either reduced or absent.

The preferred habitat of babirusa are tropical rainforests along river banks. It appears that they have been confined to the higher grounds in the interior despite occurring in lowland areas near coasts in the past. They are also active during the daytime. Like all pig species, babirusa have an omnivorous diet with an intestinal tract similar to that of the domestic pig.

Babirusas are protected in Indonesia and poaching is illegal. However, hunting remains a significant threat to the babirusa. Additionally, commercial logging operations threaten the babirusa by habitat loss, and also reduce cover, making the babirusa more exposed to hunters. All extant species of babirusa are listed as vulnerable or endangered by the IUCN.

Male babirusa tend to live solitarily while adult females can be found in groups with young. Groups of female and young babirusa may number up to 84 individuals, most of which contain no adult males. Males rarely travel in pairs or trios. The tusks of the adult males are used in intraspecific fighting. The upper tusks are for defence while the lower tusks are offensive weapons.