Babirusa (Babyrousa babyrussa)
The babirusa certainly looks like a pig with its bristly skin, tiny ears, snout, and rotund body. But it’s a pig like no other, and may be more closely related to hippos. Well suited for the island habitat, its large, heavy body enables it to push through the dense undergrowth of the forest. Today, hunting and habitat loss have cut its numbers to about 4,000 individuals.
Unique to Sulawesi and several other Indonesian islands, the babirusa is smaller than ancestral pigs on the mainland. Its unique canine teeth may have evolved because of its isolation. The male’s upper tusks grow right through the top of the mouth and curve backward towards the forehead. To some islanders, these tusks looked like deer antlers, thus the name babirusa, or “pig-deer.”