Protecting Indonesia's "Kosher Pig"

The babirusa may be a "kosher pig," but breeding them for food would be bad for the species.

| March/April 1985

  • kosher pig - babirusa illustration
    The babirusa isn't a ruminant, but thanks to cloven hooves it's called the "kosher pig."
    Illustration by Fotolia/Morphart

  • kosher pig - babirusa illustration

Late last year the media had fun with an Agency for International Development report that suggested scientists may have found a pig whose meat could be kosher. According to reports, this discovery might lead to an important new food source — particularly for Jews and Muslims, who do not eat pork because "regular" pigs aren't ruminants. (Porkers lack a second stomach, and therefore don't have cud to chew. However, they do fulfill another kosher requirement: They have cloven hooves.)

But hold on! Into the picture steps a California biologist who spent years studying the "kosher pig," babirusa (or pig deer), in the jungles of Indonesia. "Kosher or not," said Victoria Joan Selmier, "the babirusa is an endangered species." Selmier's research has indicated that there are fewer than 1,000 of the animals on the planet and that their critical habitat is already threatened. The capture of enough of them to begin a commercial breeding colony might well spell the end of the wild population.

Ironically; the babirusa owes its continued existence to the fact that the people who share its habitation on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi are Muslims and therefore leave the babirusa alone. If these people were convinced that it was all right to eat the animal, that would be the end of it in no time. Selmier thinks the suggestions about raising the babirusa domestically are hogwash. "The babirusa wouldn't do a third as well as America's 60,000,000 hogs. Babirusa meat would be very expensive at best, affordable only by the affluent."

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: April, 27-28 2019
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters