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 Toddler throws a tantrum at the White House – in front of Barack Obama
- 2 Irish people are travelling home from all over the world so they can vote to legalise gay marriage
- 3 Picture of couple posing with beached dolphin 'that later died' causes outrage
- 4 16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
- 5 Witch doctor arrested after forcing newborn baby to walk in Indian village
Toddler throws a tantrum at the White House – in front of Barack Obama
Maryland mother found pushing her dead child on a swing in a playground
16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
Picture of couple posing with beached dolphin 'that later died' causes outrage
Nicola Sturgeon did want David Cameron to win the general election, report concludes
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...