Wild boar make comeback in Tabin as ASF outbreak ends in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah's Bornean bearded pig population is making a healthy recovery as the number of African swine fever (ASF) cases continues to drop, say conservationists.

Bring Back Our Rare Animals (Bora) project manager Dr Zainal Zahari Zainuddin said that their observation via camera traps found that the population within the Tabin conservation area is growing steadily.

"Before the end of 2023, we expect that the over 20 female wild boar will produce the second generation of females. There will be a multiplier effect," Dr Zainal said when contacted.

However, he cautioned that hunting for wild boar should not be rushed as there is still a need for the species to totally recover across the state.

"I think there is a need for wild boars to be repopulated in more areas in the state. I believe that more security must be in place to check on wild boar hunting as it will speed up the population increase," he added.

Dr Zainal also said that pigs in commercial and domestic farms close to forest reserves should be monitored closely for ASF.

He said that domestic pigs need to be constantly checked for ASF as it could spread again to wild boar in reserves neighbouring the farms.

On Friday, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said there were reports of recent sightings of the bearded pigs in several districts in Sabah, reflecting a sign of the species recovery after their population was almost decimated by an ASF outbreak in late 2021.

The state Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Industry Minister, said increased sightings of families of wild pigs were reported at Nabawan, Kinabatangan, and Lahad Datu, among others.

On the hunting ban, Kitingan remains cautious about any immediate plans to lift it and expects any decision would be made six months from now as they needed to verify the authenticity of the sighting reports.

He said the Veterinary Services Department (DVS) will continue to monitor the ASF situation closely.

Bora experts had previously said that they suspect that the ASF virus might have been airborne when it affected the animals as there were few obvious modes of transmission from domestic pig sources into Tabin.

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