This is one of the world's most bizarre looking mammals. Indeed, so bizarre is this animal's appearance that it has inspired some Indonesian people to make demonic masks based on them and even offer the animals themselves as gifts to visitors (5). Its name, babirusa, means 'pig-deer' and its peculiar appearance has lead local people to confer mythical properties to it (6). Babirusas are in fact members of the pig family, and the only living representatives of the subfamily Babyrousinae (7). Its common name comes from its pig-like rounded body, and the highly distinctive tusks of males. These tusks are in fact upper and lower canine teeth which grow vertically and curve e backwards towards the forehead; the upper tusks passing through the skin of the snout These dramatic features may grow to 30 cm in length, though they usually absent or much smaller in females (3). The babirusa's body is rounded, with a mostly hairless hide which ranges in colour from grey to brown, with lighter underparts (3). Adult mainland babirusas often have large folds of skin on the neck and belly, with thinly distributed yellow hairs (3); whereas the nominate form from Buru and Sula Islands is notable in having a short hairy coat – hence being referred to as the 'hairy' or 'golden' babirusa. The young are also uniformly brown in colour rather than striped like most other wild pig offspring (8).
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