Postcard from... Aldudes, France
Thirty years ago, with fewer than two-dozen members of their species left, they faced extinction.
But after coming across some of the last remaining examples of the hairy, lop-eared Basque pig by chance at a French agricultural fair in 1988, Aldudes valley farmer Pierre Oteiza has almost single-handedly saved the breed from dying out – albeit by rearing the pigs for the consumption of their ham.
Mr Oteiza now has some 5,000 Basque pigs on his farm, producing a much-prized cured ham which sells in around a dozen delicatessens in France, as well as being exported to Japan and Korea.
And if the sight of porkers snuffling through the grass on Mr Oteiza's farm in search of acorns, roots and grass seems timeless, the former butcher uses modern computer technology and search programs to keep track not just of each ham, but of each pig's ancestors as far as six generations back.
The Basque pig cured ham, darker and richer than the much-better-known jamon serrano from the other side of the nearby Spanish border, has grown so popular that recently it was the pièce de résistance at a banquet for 3,000 local rugby supporters in a France-Argentina match.
But there are fans from much farther afield – even in the Far East. As Mr Oteiza told newspaper Sud Ouest this month: "Most weeks we'll have at least one busload of Japanese tourists come and pay the farm a visit."
- 1 The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
- 2 Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
- 3 iPhone 5c to be discontinued, no iPhone 6c to replace it
- 4 Jozef Wesołowski: Former Catholic archbishop found dead ahead of child sexual abuse trial
Spain accused of 'provocation' after letting Russian submarine refuel off Gibraltar
Allonautilus scrobiculatus: World's 'rarest' creature spotted for only the third time ever
Miley Cyrus address Robin Thicke VMA controversy: ‘He wanted me as naked as possible, but I got the heat because I’m a woman’
Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...