Sabah's wild pigs are being stalked by a killer virus

Scientists collecting tissue samples from a dead wild pig in Sabah. - Sabah Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry

Before Covid-19 restrictions put an end to the stream of visitors to Sabah, dozens of tour buses and vans used to stop along the long, winding two-lane highway between Tamparuli and Kundasang. Most of the tourists – usually Chinese nationals – were either on their way to or from Mount Kinabalu and would stop for another of the state’s attractions: sinalau bakas, or smoked wild boar.

Amidst smoke rising from barbecue pits, they would feast on the smoked wild boar meat that sold for between RM20 and RM26 a kilo. However, these days, most of the stalls along the road – known among tourists as the sinalau bakas highway – are shuttered, as are those in tamu markets as well as high-end shoplots. But it isn’t the pandemic that closed down most of these shops but another dreaded disease: African swine fever (ASF).

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