A Tale of Two Boars – Part One
A Pig with a Snout Two Sizes Too Long
By Kattina Rabdau-Fox
Bako National Park, Borneo, Malaysia
If Dr. Seuss could have imagined an animal and brought it to life, it might have looked like the bearded boar. Native to Borneo, these ungulates are like most wild pigs, but with enormously long, anteater-like schnozzes and precociously bristly beards they wear in full splendor.
At full size they can weigh up to 260 pounds. They are truly the hipsters of Sarawak. They don’t wear skinny jeans or ride fixies, but they’re cool, in that not-trying-to-be-cool kind of way. They have ironic facial hair. Or maybe it’s natural, but come on; they look like they aren’t even trying when they clearly are.
“Hipster,” Dave has anointed the dominant male boar – for the aforementioned reasons, and also because he (the pig) looks like a small hippo.
Hipster sits outside our chalet at Bako National Park. He is totally giving us the come-on eyes of an animal that is keen to eat human snacks. I’m pretty sure he’s friendly to Bugles and Cheezy Poofs. I swear, if I had a PBR, he’d be all like “I drank this before anyone else did. You should give me some. Oh, and I saw Radiohead at the July, 1997, performance where they played ‘Creep, live for the first time.”
So the bearded pigs are awkward in a way only emo Seattlites would understand. Their noses are disproportionately long compared to the rest of their body. Their whiskers are the wrong color compared to the rest of their hair. The old males have quazi tusks that protrude from their mouths like errant lip rings. It is 1990’s fashion in Sarawak.
Boars in Bako National Park are unusual; after living in a protected area for generations, they’ve forgotten fear of humans, and they poke around the human dwellings like they’re cats. Really big cats.
My favorite behavior is the “What’s in here?” move. They snout the ground, rooting in the sandy soil for worms or other snacks. They leave a snout-shaped hole in the ground, and an equally sized one in my Seattle-girl heart.
Video: A Bearded Pig Says Hello
In this short video clip, a wild boar in Bako National Park gets curious about our camera.
Visiting the Boars of Bako
Bako National Park is near the city of Kuching in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. You can get there by taking the #1 public bus for MYR 3.50 ringgit (There are roughly three Malaysian ringgit to one US dollar) or a private van from the city center to Bako town. From there, hire a boat to take you into the park.
Park entrance costs MYR 20 per person. A round-trip boat ride costs MYR 47 for up to five passengers. Make sure the people you boat up with are leaving Bako the same time you are. The boatmen are specific on this; one trip in, one trip out.
If you stay overnight in Bako, you can choose between basic, private lodging (MYR 100/night for up to 3 people), dorm beds (MYR 20 per night), or tent camping for a steal of MYR 5 per person. Arrangements can be made through the Sarawak Forestry Department.
Kattina Rabdau-Fox is a middle school science teacher based in Singapore. She is also the wife of Globejotting.com founder Dave Fox, but please don’t hold that against her.
Part Two: Dave writes about a bearded pig with a foot fetish.