Around 128 bearded pigs have been found dead in Sabah’s forest reserves due to the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus. Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) has been finding at least one dead pig a day since discovering 14 dead boars in Kinabatangan between December and January.
In a statement today, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said the government fears the species’ survival especially because the population of the Bornean bearded pigs are already declining.
“I am concerned the ASF will further decrease their population at a faster rate,” he said.
The Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) has set up an urgent steering committee meeting with various relevant departments and agencies to plan and brief efforts to control and eradicate the ASF.
“The committee discussed how to best solve the problem and raise awareness among the people in ASF-hit areas,” DVS Director Dr Peter Lee said during the meeting which he chaired.
This includes awareness campaign activities, determining how to contain the disease from spreading further among the wild bearded pigs and the best way to dispose of the pig carcasses,” he said.
The Sabah Wildlife Department has also suspended hunting licenses and prohibited the sale of sinalau bakas or smoked boar meat.
DVS has also carried out 74 awareness campaign in 74 villages in Pitas, the district where ASF was first discovered. The department has also continued surveillance to detect the status of infection in ASF-free districts and collected 409 various samples.
“As a result of this sampling collecting exercise, ASF has been detected in Tawau, bringing the total number of districts with confirmed ASF to eight. These districts are Pitas, Kota Marudu, Beluran, Telupid, Kinabatangan, Sandakan, Lahad Datu and Tawau.
“Five districts namely Pitas, Beluran, Kota Marudu, Lahad Datu and Kinabatangan have been declared ASF outbreak areas. The remaining three districts will be declared this week,” he said.
Kitingan said DVS has culled a total of 110 backyard pigs while 395 died from the virus. He also said the department will ensure that the disease will not spread to commercial pig farms so the pork supply remains unaffected for local consumption.
He reminded the people that ASF only affects pigs and the public should not be worried about the virus’ effects on human health. Although that is the case, SWD director Augustine Tuuga said the virus could severely affect Sabah’s economy and its efforts for wildlife and forest conservations.