About Auckland Island Pigs
The Auckland Island Pig
is a feral breed of domestic pig found on Auckland
Island in New Zealand.
The pig is believed to have inhabited the island since 1807, when
Europeans made several various releases of domestic pigs to provide a source of
food for stranded sailors or visiting whalers. By the end of the 19th
century, the island held a thriving population of mixed origin pigs. In the
late 20th century the largely undisturbed pig population produced a
single distinctive breed know today as the Auckland Island Pig.
The Auckland Island pigs appearance consists of coats of
thick hair which are black, or white or brown with black markings and have
long, narrow heads and snouts, straight tails, and are relatively small in
stature. The average weight of the Auckland Island adult boar is 41.7 kg, and
an adult sow 37.3 kg.
As of the late 20th century the substantial pig
population occupied the whole of the island, with equal numbers of males and
females. The pigs' diet is simple consuming a wide variety of
different plants and earth worms. Pigs along the coastal areas also eat bark,
invertebrates, the remains of dead birds and sea lions.
The Auckland Island Pig has had a considerable environmental impact on
the island due to overpopulation; they have caused destruction of much of the
islands’ flora, and have had a considerable negative impact on wildlife
throughout the island. They have dug up birds burrows, and stolen bird eggs (petrels,
albatrosses, mollymawks, penguins, and shags).
In 1999 a decision was made by local government to try to restore the
natural ecosystems and an attempt to preserve the Auckland Island breed was
conducted. An expedition caught and removed seventeen pigs from the island,
including several pregnant sows, transferring them to Invercargill, New Zealand. These pigs have since bred successfully in captivity and
the breed is no longer at risk.