Babyrousa celebensis 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Suidae

Scientific Name: Babyrousa celebensis
Species Authority: (Deninger, 1909)
Common Name(s):
English Sulawesi Babirusa, North Sulawesi Babirusa
French Babiroussa
Spanish Babirusa
Babirussa celebensis Deninger, 1909
Babyrousa babyrussa subspecies celebensis (Deninger, 1909)
Babyrousa babyrussa subspecies merkusi De Beaufort, 1964 [nom. nud.]
Babyrousa bolabatuensis Hoojer, 1950
Babyrousa merkusi De Beaufort, 1964 [nom. nud.]
Taxonomic Notes: Groves (2001) and Meijaard and Groves (2002a, b) proposed to upgrade the three extant subspecies of Babyrousa to species level: B. celebensis from northern Sulawesi; B. togeanensis from the Togian islands; and B. babyrussa from Buru and the Sula Islands. A single skull from central Sulawesi may or may not represent the species known otherwise only as a subfossil from the southern peninsula, B. bolabatuensis. The taxonomic identity of the individuals from central, eastern and southeastern Sulawesi was left undecided. For this reason we treat all individuals occurring on Sulawesi, Muna, Buton and Lembeh as belonging to one taxonomic unit, as was the case in the old taxonomy. All animals from Sulawesi, Muna, Buton and Lembeh are therefore treated as Babyrousa celebensis, pending resolution of the taxonomy. Preliminary investigations hint at a possible closer affinity of central Sulawesi individuals with Babyrousa babyrussa from the Sula Islands and Buru, but further anatomical as well as genetic studies are necessary and are being conducted to confirm or refute this.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2cd; C1 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Macdonald, A.A., Burton, J. & Leus, K.
Reviewer(s): Leus, K. & Oliver, W. ( Pig, Peccary & Hippo Red List Authority)
Listed as Vulnerable because of a population decline, estimated to be more than 30% over the last three generations (approximately 18 years), inferred from over-exploitation, shrinkage in distribution, and habitat destruction and degradation; and because the population size is estimated to number fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, there is a decline of >10% expected over the next three generations. It was once thought to be reasonably common, but the species has largely disappeared from the eastern section of the northern peninsula and is under severe hunting pressure in at least northern and central Sulawesi. Elsewhere on the island there has been, and is ongoing, habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation. The Red Listing of the Sulawesi babirusa is dependent on its taxonomy. Should the ongoing genetic and anatomical studies later indicate that central and/or eastern, and/or southeastern babirusa are different from those of the northern peninsula, the red list status of the northern peninsula population will become more severe.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Babyrousa celebensis is endemic to Indonesia, and, as defined here, occurs widely on Sulawesi, with the exception of the southwestern peninsula where the form bolabatuensis is known from subfossials (Meijaard and Groves 2002a). It is also known from offshore islands, including Muna, Buton and Lembeh. On the northern peninsula of Sulawesi, they have most likely disappeared from the most northern section and their distribution may now be largely limited to the western end of the Bogani Nani-Wartabone National Park, and to the Nantu Wildlife Reserve and the Panua Nature Reserve; all in the western half of the peninsula ((Riley, 2002). The babirusa still occurs in central Sulawesi and the eastern and southeastern peninsula, although precise information regarding the current extent of occurrence and area of occupancy is lacking (Macdonald, 1993; Alvard, 2000; Burton, 2002, Riley 2002; Wiles et al., 2002). The species is unlikely to still occur on the severely deforested southern island of Muna. On Buton the species was not found during recent mammal surveys (Meijaard and Groves 2002b, Wiles et al., 2002) and no babirusa skulls were found during a recent visit to the island in search of anoa skulls (J. Burton pers. comm.). Its continued presence on the island of Lembeh is also uncertain.
Countries occurrence:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:B. celebensis has been largely extirpated from the northeast part of the northern peninsula, and is being brought to markets in the neighbourhood of Manado from practically all over Sulawesi at an alarming rate (Milner-Gulland and Clayton, 2002; Lee et al, 2005). Recent survey data strongly suggest that populations in the wild are seriously depleted (Riley, 2002). Babirusa appear to have become rare in Lore Lindu National Park, but may be more common in the area to the north of Palu (Riley, 2002; Burton, 2002).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Sulawesi babirusa inhabits tropical rain forest on the banks of rivers and ponds abounding in water plants. Whereas in the past the animal has tended to occur in low lying areas near coasts, recent anecdotal and survey reports indicate that it is now confined mostly to the interior, on higher and less accessible ground (Riley, 2002).

In common with most of the other suids, babirusa are omnivorous and both wild and captive individuals consume a wide variety of leaf, root, fruit and animal matter (invertebrates and small vertebrates). They visit volcanic salt licks and drink the water and ingest the soil (Clayton, 1996; Leus et al., 2002). Although detailed studies of their diet in the wild still need to be carried out, a review of the available information from the wild combined with studies on the stomachs and digestive abilities of captive animals suggest that from an anatomical/digestive point of view, they are most likely non-ruminant forestomach fermenting frugivores/concentrate selectors (Leus et al., 2004). Their jaws and teeth are reported to be strong enough to crack very hard nuts with ease. However, babirusa do not exhibit the rooting behaviour typical of other suids because of the absence of a rostral bone in the nose. They will probe soft sand as well as wet, muddy places for food.

In northern Sulawesi groups or troops of up to 13 individuals have been observed in rainforest, especially around water, communal wallowing areas and salt licks (Patry et al., 1995; Clayton, 1996). Older adult males were often observed singly and most groups were composed of five or fewer animals, the majority of which were females with young animals.
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Babirusa are hunted for food to supply the Christian markets in North Sulawesi (Blouch, 1990; Burton 2002; Milner-Gulland and Clayton, 2002; Lee et al., 2005). As the species becomes rare or absent from eastern sections of the northern peninsula, hunting is moving to the west and centre. For example, babirusa from the area to the north of Palu and from Lore Lindu National Park (although the species now appears severely depleted in the latter) are being hunted and sold to traders from North Sulawesi (Burton, 2002).

The species is also increasingly threatened by commercial logging, and by the spread of other land-uses resulting in forest conversion and degradation (MacDonald 1993; Riley 2002). Total lowland forest loss on the island is estimated to be likely more than 75% (Riley 2002).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The babirusa was accorded full protection under Indonesian law in 1931 (Dammerman, 1950; Setyodirwiryo, 1959). The species has been included on Appendix I of CITES since 1982, although international trade in this species is not thought to be have been an important issue in recent times (Macdonald 1993).

The species occurs in several protected areas of various levels on Sulawesi (e.g. Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park, Lore Lindu National Park, Rawa Aopa Watumohai National Park, the Nantu Wildlife Reserve, the Panua Nature Reserve, Morowali Nature Reserveand others (Macdonald, 1993; Alvard, 2000, Riley, 2002; Wiles et al., 2002, - accessed 5 June 2008)) The species often remains under hunting pressure even in protected areas.

There is an international studbook for the world captive population of the Sulawesi babirusa and both the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) have cooperative breeding programmes for the species, cooperating with the South East Asian Zoos Association (SEAZA). The founders of this population likely originated from northern Sulawesi. Ongoing genetic studies will hopefully help to resolve this origin question.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
suitability: Marginal  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.7. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.8. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha)
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level
6. Livelihood, economic & other incentives -> 6.1. Linked enterprises & livelihood alternatives

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.1. Shifting agriculture
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.2. Wood & pulp plantations -> 2.2.2. Agro-industry plantations
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
0. Root -> 4. Other

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Alvard, M. 2000. The impact of traditional subsistence hunting and trapping on prey populations: data from Wana horticulturalists of upland Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. In: J. G. Robinson and E. L. Bennett (eds), Hunting for Sustainability in Tropical Forests, pp. 214-230. Columbia University Press, New York, USA.

Blouch, R. A. 1990. Report from the field: Indonesia. Smithsonian Institution Conservation and Research Centre Newsletter 1: 6-8.

Burton, J. 2002. Short notes on pigs in Lore Lindu National Park. Asian Wild Pig News 2(2): 30.

Clayton, L. M. 1996. Conservation Biology of the Babyrusa Babyrousa babyrussa in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Oxford.

Clayton, L. M., Milner-Gulland, E. J., Sinaga, D. W. and Mustari, A. H. 2000. Effects of a Proposed Ex Situ Conservation Program on In Situ Conservation of the Babirusa, an Endangered Suid. Conservation Biology 14(2): 382-385.

Dammerman, K. W. 1950. Geschiedenis van de natuurbescherming in Indonesië. Chronica Naturae 106: 216-228.

Deninger, K. 1910. Über Babyrusa. Berichte der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft zu Freiburg i. Br 18: 1-22.

Groves, C. P. 2001. Mammals in Sulawesi: Where did they come from and when, and what happened to them when they got there? In: I. Metcalfe, J. M. B. Smith, M. Morwood, and I. Davidson (eds), Faunal and floral migration and evolution in SE Asia-Australasia, pp. 333-342. A.A. Balkema Publishers, Lisse, The Netherlands.

Lee, R. J., Gorog, A. J., Dwiyahreni, A., Siwu, S., Riley, J., Alexander, H., Paoli, G. D. and Ramono, W. 2005. Wildlife trade and implications for law enforcement in Indonesia: a case study from North Sulawesi. Biological Conservation 123: 477-488.

Leus, K., Macdonald, A. A., Goodall, G. P., Veitch, D., Mitchell, S. and Bauwens, L. 2004. Light and scanning electron microscopy of the cardiac gland region of the stomach of the babirusa (Babyrousa babyrussa - Suidae, Mammalia). Comptes Rendus Biologies 327: 735-743.

Leus, K., Morgan, C. A. and Dierenfeld, E. S. 2002. Nutrition of the babirusa. In: M. Fischer (ed.), Husbandry Guidelines for the Babirusa (Babyrousa babyrussa) Species Survival Plan, pp. 12-25. St Louis Zoo, St Louis, Missouri, USA.

MacDonald, A. A. 1993. The Babirusa (Babyrousa babyrussa). In: W. L. R. Oliver (ed.), Pigs, Peccaries, and Hippos: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

McGinley, M. 2007. Buru rain forests. Washington, DC, USA Available at:>.

Meijaard, E. and Groves, C. P. 2002. Proposal for taxonomic changes within the genus Babyrousa. IUCN/SSC Pigs, Peccaries, and Hippos Specialist Group (PPHSG) Newsletter 2(1): 9-10.

Meijaard, E. and Groves, C. P. 2002. Upgrading three subspecies of Babirusa (Babyrousa sp.) to full species level. IUCN/SSC Pigs, Peccaries, and Hippos Specialist Group (PPHSG) Newsletter 2(2): 33-39.

Milner-Gulland, E. J. and Clayton, L. 2002. The trade in babirusas and wild pigs in North Sulawesi. Indonesia Ecological Economics 42: 165–183.

Patry, M., Leus, K. and Macdonald, A. A. 1995. Group structure and behaviour of babirusa (Babyrousa babyrussa) in northern Sulawesi. Australian Journal of Zoology 43: 643-655.

Riley, J. 2002. Current Wildlife Conservation Society research and conservation of Sulawesi's suids. Asian Wild Pig News 2(2): 26-30.

Setyodirwiryo, K. 1959. Nature protection in Indonesia. Proceedings of the Ninth Pacific Science Congress of the Pacific Science Association 7: 18-20.

Wiles, R., Macdonald, A. A., Burton, J. and Mustari, A. H. 2002. Records of babirusa and warty pigs in southeastern Sulawesi. Asian Wild Pig News 2(2): 31-32.

Citation: Macdonald, A.A., Burton, J. & Leus, K. 2008. Babyrousa celebensis. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T136446A4292795. . Downloaded on 27 June 2016.
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