Southern Taiwan's Orchid Island to host pig-catching contest in September

The competition aims to reduce the island's increasingly unmanageable wild hog population

Wild pigs upturn garbage cans in search of food, causing havoc on Orchid island.

Wild pigs upturn garbage cans in search of food, causing havoc on Orchid island. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Orchid Island (蘭嶼) in Taitung County will host a hog-catching contest in an attempt to reduce its population of wild pigs, which are causing havoc for local residents.

Taitung County Government’s Agriculture Department on Friday (May 24) announced that it will host the competition in September, in coordination with the Lanyu Township Office, the Central News Agency reported. Those wishing to participate must register in groups of three that consist of at least one indigenous Taiwanese person from Taitung County, and one person from Orchid Island.

Teams that catch two or more wild boars within the first stage of the competition move through to the second, prize-winning round. Success in the second round will be judged on the number and collective weight of each team’s captured hogs.

The winning team will be awarded NT$30,000 (US$950) in cash, the runner-up team will win NT$20,000, while the team landing in third place will win NT$15,000. Teams that do not make the top three will each receive NT$5,000 for their participation.

Wild hogs are becoming increasingly bothersome to residents of Orchid Island. They harass citizens, tip over garbage cans in search of food, and ravage taro and sweet potato crops, said Taitung councilor Huang Bi-mei (黃碧妹).

Although many hogs on the island are inherently wild, some were piglets that escaped from farm pens damaged during typhoon seasons, Huang said. Lost piglets often make their way to the mountains, where they grow up into wild mountain hogs and develop sharp fangs after five or six years.

The Lanyu Township Office budgeted for a hog-catching contest to be held in 2018, but the hog breeding season happened to coincide with the traditional Flying Fish Festival, leaving few people available to participate.

A retired Bunun (布農) man known as “Mountain Boar King” (山豬王), who previously captured over 1000 wild hogs, said he would be happy to regroup his team in order to showcase his talents and share his skills with the Tao (達悟) people.

The "Wild Boar King" said he would be happy to return to his home island to participate in the contest. (CNA image)