An extremely rare pig has been brought back from the brink of extinction in Cornwall.

Michelle Burley-Hodge has joined a small group dedicated to saving a rare hardy breed known as the woolly Mangalitza that is able to fight off bears, writes Ed Cullinane of SWNS.

She was inspired to rescue the curly haired pigs after hearing her grandmother's childhood stories about a now extinct pig from her village.

She said the work being done is having a positive impact - with the pigs slowly recovering from just ten in the UK to around 50.

The mother-of-two of Perranwell, Cornwall, is currently one of four farmers in the UK who have made it their mission to rescue the rare pigs.

South West Farmer:

Mangalitza pigs are huge hardy animals with long curly hair that originate from Hungary.

Michelle said: "They're not very sought after pigs because they take longer to rear for meat, but they're really unique and hardy animals.

"You do get a lot of meat, and a lot of different meat. Their fat is also really good for Omega 3, some other farmers render it down for sale. It's called the golden lard.

"You can get different varieties too, blondes, redheads and swallow bellied versions all have different looks.

"They came very close to extinction in the UK, at one point there was only around ten left in the UK, but thankfully my pig Ronnie has had some large litters.

South West Farmer:

"I've spoken to our British Pig Association rep recently and they say that the gene is still in desperate need of improvement, but that the number of pigs are increasing slowly.

"I know that recently the farmers I work with near Yorkshire and Sussex have had new litters, so the breed is definitely improving over time.

"We're also going to import a whole new strain of Mangalitza pigs from Austria in July, so hopefully that will add some variety and make the breed more viable.

"That new line here could potentially then produce five new lines, so that should mean that in the next 20 years all of our pigs wont be closely related."

Michelle was inspired to rescue the breed after hearing her grandmother Sylvia talk about a huge hairy pig that used to walk around her village as a child.

While searching for one to buy for herself Michelle discovered that the breed of pig, a 'Lincolnshire curlycoat', have since gone extinct.

Finding a closely similar breed, the Mangalitza, she was determined to make an effort towards rescuing them from extinction.

A global breed, the pigs have been exported across the world as far afield as Japan and Canada due to how tough they are.

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Michelle says that there are even Facebook groups dedicated to the pigs, with owners who share their experiences and how their pigs are faring from across the world.

She added: "There are some way out in Japan, Canada, America and more.

"Because they're such a hardy pig though they've done very well in Hungary where they are originally from.

"Some people in the Facebook group I'm a part of for Mangalitza pigs even have been found in three feet of snow and living happily.

"Another pig in the US was attacked by a bear which is not something we're used to here. The pig was fine, and there's even a video of it fighting off the bear.

"It's mental how sturdy they are."