First observations on Moluccan Babirusa (Babyrousa babirussa). A translation from a recently rediscovered 1770 book that describes the Babirusa on Buru Island
Meijaard, Emily Mae
Macdonald, Alastair A.
Surprisingly little is known about the Moluccan Babirusa Babyrousa babirussa despite the fact that this animal was first described by Europeans in 1582 (Macdonald et al., 2016). Most of the research on the biology of the animals of the genus Babyrousa has been conducted on animals from, or descended from those on, the island of Sulawesi, where Babyrousa celebensis occurs (Macdonald, 2017). A recently rediscovered book (Anonymous, 1770), published by Jan Monterre in 1770 and republished in Afrikaans as Anonymous 2011, contains information about this poorly known Babirusa; the chapter on the ‘BabiRoesa, VarkensHert’ was compiled by an unknown author, and as acknowledged, is largely derived from the book by Valentijn (1726). The latter has been said to contain the observations collected by Georg Everhard Rumphius for his unpublished books ‘concerning Land, Airand Sea animals of these islands’ (Beekman, 1999). The general quality and accuracy of the observations in the manuscript indicate that the original author was wellinformed, and this gives a sense of reliability to this historical information. Importantly, this 246 year old book chapter provides us with a glimpse of a past when apparently the Moluccan Babirusa was still very common.