Biodiversity Loss and Invasive Species: The Case of Pot-Bellied Pigs

According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), we can understand the term biodiversity as “the variety of life on Earth. It is the variety within and between all species of plants, animals and micro-organisms and the ecosystems within which they live and interact”. This way, biodiversity is crucial for human-beings because it provides society a wide range of goods and services. However, the role of biodiversity is generally underestimated and it is possible to note how the world is losing biological diversity during the last decades as a result of human activity.

Alteration and fragmentation, over exploitation of wild species populations, climate change, pollution or invasive species has resulted in biodiversity loss. I am going to focus on how invasive species contribute to biodiversity loss. Invasive species are organisms or plants that are introduced deliberately or inadvertently into a new environment, where they are not native. Invasive species do not have a negative effect only on the environment, but also on the economy and health.

“Invasive alien species have great impacts on biodiversity – at times determining dramatic declines in species’ populations. The latest scientific data on invasives needs to be taken into account when prioritising action by the EU. It is essential to know where and how species arrive into Europe, how they are spreading, and their actual and potential impact to ensure that action is effective”, said Piero Genovesi, Chair of IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group.

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One of the last examples of invasive species is the pot-bellied pig. A pot-bellied pig is a kind of domesticated pig
originating in Vietnam. During the last years, the popularity of pot-bellied pigs has grown and many people have acquired these types of pigs as pet fads. However, the unawareness of their owners has led to their abandonment. Pot-bellied pigs are not miniature pigs as people believed, they usually weigh around 50 kg when they fully grown and will live between 12 and 18 years. Moreover, they require a special care: good quality pig food, regular vaccinations, etc.

For these reasons, many of them are abandoned in the countryside by their owners. In the case of Spain, some of these abandoned post-bellied pigs have bred with species of wild bores. As a consequence, a new type of pig has appeared in 17 Autonomous Communities. This is dangerous for biodiversity, because of the number of wild bores could be reduced and this new breed could damage crops.

This example can raise awareness and prove the responsibility of human behaviours for biodiversity loss. Human-beings cannot ignore the value of biological diversity and they should be more aware of respecting biodiversity in order to avoid habitat damages, loss of resources and economic losses.


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