Auckland Island Pigs
Auckland Island boar (Photo by Karen Nicoll)
A Rare Breed of New Zealand Origin
Pigs were first introduced onto Auckland Island, south of mainland New Zealand, in 1807 as a source of food for whalers and shipwrecked sailors. They thrived and were reported as “numerous” in 1840 when more pigs were released, followed by further liberations in 1842. Continuing concern for the welfare of castaways led to a final introduction of pigs in the 1890s.
By the end of the nineteenth century there was a thriving feral pig population on Auckland Island derived from the successive liberations over the previous century and these animals remained isolated over the next hundred years.
During this time they reverted completely to a wild type – with long narrow heads and snouts and noticeably straight tails. They were also on the small side – and markedly athletic. Most were black but a few were black and tan, and a few also had touches of white.
In January 1999 a Rare Breeds Society expedition rescued and removed seventeen pigs – including several pregnant sows – from Auckland Island prior to the eradication of the remaining animals by the Department of Conservation.
The rescued animals were housed, initially in quarantine, in a special, purpose-built facility in Invercargill, where they have been successfully bred. Their future at the time of writing is bright.