No immediate plans to lift ban on wild boar hunting for now, says Sabah Wildlife Dept

Bornean bearded pig population showing a rebound at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in recent months. (Pix courtesy Bring Back Our Rare Animals)

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department has no immediate plans to lift the ban on wild boar hunting amid reports that their population is increasing with African Swine Fever (ASF) epidemic cases on the decline.

The department director Augustine Tuuga said the ban would remain as the Bornean bearded pig population still has to fully recover in the state.

"It (the population of wild boar) has not fully recovered. There are too few compared to what it used to be," Tuuga said when contacted on Sunday (May 28).

He said the department felt that the ban should remain in place for another year before it was reviewed.

Furthermore, Tuuga said that according to the state Department of Veterinary Services (DVS), the ASF epidemic is not fully contained as yet.

The department had placed the ban in February 2021 after an outbreak was detected among domestic and commercial farms in Sabah in November and December 2020.

A large number of boars in the wild were killed in the epidemic with conservationists at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve only recently reporting the wild boar population showing a steady recovery.

Tabin-based Bring Back Our Rare Animals (Bora) project manager Dr Zainal Zahari Zainuddin said there were signs of the wild boar population expanding before the end of 2023.

He said based on their observation from camera traps, there were three boars and nine sows that were spotted in July 2022.

"In October 2022, at least five sows gave birth, ranging from three to eight piglets.

"Now, a few of the new sows are giving birth to their second litter," he said. The gestation period is about four months.

Dr Zainal also agreed that the resumption of wild boar hunting should not be rushed.

Licensed and traditional hunting for wild boars is allowed in certain areas outside protected forests and reserves in Sabah.

The hunting restriction, conservationists say, was helping the recovery of the boars in the wild.

Earlier in the week, Deputy Chief Minister cum Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said that there were signs of the wild boar population recovering in several areas in the state.

However, he said they needed to ascertain the population numbers.

Wild boar hunting is common among native communities and has also become commercially popular with some food operators offering smoked wild boar meat, known locally as Sinalau Bakas.

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