A Bornean bearded pig (Sus barbatus) on a beach in Bako National Park, Kuching, Malaysia, Borneo, searching for food in the sand. ASF is threatening native wild pigs in Asia.
Photo: ©Lillian Tveit/Shutterstock

Stepping up efforts to fight ASF

African swine fever is not only an economic threat and a threat for food security, it is also endangering wild pig populations. Stronger policies and strategies are needed to mitigate the impacts of ASF on wildlife, livestock health and rural livelihoods.

The rate of infection of African swine fever (ASF) among domestic and wild pigs in the Asia-Pacific region is increasing. In late August 2021, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) prompted their members to increase efforts to address ASF, which threatens the livelihood of communities dependent on pig farming and the region’s food security in general. As of mid-June 2021, some 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific region had reported ASF outbreaks.

African swine fever does not pose a hazard or risk to humans, but has devastated domestic pig production and impacted wild pig populations, especially in the Asia-Pacific Region. The disease among pigs is highly infectious and usually fatal.

ASF was first reported in the region in August 2018 and has since led to the culling of hundreds of millions of domestic pigs in an effort to control its spread. No vaccine exists to combat the virus, and basic biosecurity measures currently remain the best approach to prevent further ASF spread and spill-over to wild pig species in the region.

The impact of ASF on the conservation of wildlife in the Asia-Pacific region could be devastating due to the potentially high mortality rate in native wild pigs. FAO, IUCN SSC and OIE have expressed increasing concern that ASF outbreaks could push the eleven native wild pig species to the edge of extinction, explaining that the loss of native wild species could also affect fragile ecological communities by depriving threatened predators of a vital food source.

(FAO/ile)

Read more at the website of the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

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