bokor mountain, Kampot province – An extra toe has apparently saved a young pig from inevitable market slaughter after Bokor National Park rangers caught the pig and delivered it to a nearby pagoda earlier this week.
Rangers stationed at the park’s entrance were worried that the month-old pig, which sprouted five toes on its right front leg instead of the usual four and had been roaming nearby, would bring them bad luck during their patrols.
Even the livestock kept by the rangers had been fearful, according to ranger Nao Sen.
“Our dog tried to bite it and our cow chased it away,” he said.
Many rural Cambodians believe that pigs with five toes—a rare but not unheard of occurrence—can jinx a family and its farm. Very few people will buy and eat such a pig, Nao Sen said.
Usually, five-toed pigs are sent away to a pagoda, where they can expect a full and secure life.
The pig caught Sunday was tied up by two rangers, placed in a basket and delivered to the local pagoda by motorbike.
The pig had originally been bought by a local farmer, Nao Sen said. But the farmer let it go inside the park once he noticed the small but significant deformity.
Nao Sen recalled that 20 years ago, a family in Angkor Chey district, Kampot province, had a five-toed pig. They continued to feed it until it grew big and fat, but potential buyers were wary of the bad luck the extra toe carried.
Unable to sell it, the family decided to eat it. Ignoring the warnings of fellow villagers, they took the pig to the local butcher and asked him to slaughter it.
The butcher tied up the pig’s legs and prepared to slash its throat. As the knife descended, the pig moved out of the way, causing the butcher to miss and lose his balance.
This was good luck for the pig, Nao Sen said, but bad luck for the butcher, who he claims accidentally cut his own throat and died.