A mystical Malaysian island is grappling with a “seaborne invasion” of wild boar, which some believe are swimming kilometres across one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes before destroying crops.
“The seaborne invasion of wild boars leaves us in despair as the animal population is increasing,” said Norhizam Hassan Baktee, chairman of the Malacca agriculture committee, of the influx on to Pulau Besar.
The creatures are thought to be from Indonesia, which would mean navigating the busy Malacca Strait, a 550-mile-long (900km) stretch of water between Malaysia and Indonesia that is only a few kilometres wide at its narrowest point.
Fishermen working in the strait have reported seeing “snouts in the dark” in coastal waters each night, though the animals may also have been stowaways on shipping.
The wild boar are using island of Besar as a landing point before crossing into the Malaysian mainland and other coastal areas.
“The mystical island of Pulau Besar here has witnessed widespread damage from the ‘migration’ of dozens of these wild boars, including piglets,” said Baktee.
Pulau Besar, which according to its namesake means “big island”, is a sleepy tropical island located about nine miles off the Malaysian coast, across from the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Given the recent influx of wild boar the agriculture committee said it was concerned the migrant pigs might soon outnumber the island’s small human population.
The department of wildlife, known as Perhilitan, in the Malaysian state of Malacca, has reportedly agreed to deploy staff to shoot the animals, said Baktee. “Perhilitan is bringing in three sharpshooters on a mission to save Pulau Besar from the wild boar invasion,” he said.
Pulau Besar has long held a place in the imagination of mystics, spiritualists and pilgrims. It is said to be home to the graves of several people who first brought Islam to the Malay archipelago in the 14th century.
Other tourist draws include a mystical cave where warriors were said to once practise traditional martial arts, a mythical well and a large boulder believed to grant wishes.
Last year the state government pledged to rebrand the island as a tourist resort and free trade zone in an effort to eliminate “superstitious and sacred activities” and promote local products, such as cocoa.