Native pigs return to Orchid Island after 40-year captive breeding program

The Council of Agriculture (COA) delivered 28 pure-bred miniature pigs native to Orchid Island back to their homeland after a 40-year captive breeding program designed to protect the species.

The pygmy pigs arrived by boat at the Kaiyuan Harbor on January 15, according to United Daily News.

The 10 boars and 18 sows were welcomed home by members of the indigenous Yami people.

pigs in crates at harbor
Orchid Island pigs arrive at Kaiyuan Harbor, Orchid Island, January 15, 2021.

Shi La-heng, head of Langdao Village said that the pigs will be raised and bred in captivity in order to maintain their purebred genes. As numbers increase, some of the pigs will be used for tourism development, and part will be used to develop characteristic local food products.

Technical guidance will be provided by the COA’s Animal Production Laboratory.

According to the COA, the Orchid Island pigs are the only miniature pig native to Taiwan. The breed is characterized by small, erect ears, black skin, a shiny coat with bristles on the head and neck, and a sunken back.

The Orchid Island pigs were captured and taken to a breeding farm in Taitung County in 1979, as they were threatened by interbreeding with foreign pig varieties. The number of pigs in the breeding program now exceeds 500.

Orchid Island pigs in captivity
Characteristic Orchid Island pigs bred on a farm in Taitung County, Taiwan.
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