The mass mortality of Asia's native pigs induced by African swine fever

Asia's wild pigs are ecosystem engineers and a key food for predators and people. The arrival of African swine fever (ASF) in 2018 induced near-100% fatality in domestic pigs and decimated the Chinese pork industry in 2020 but outcomes for wild pigs have been delayed and unclear. Here we report on the mass mortality of native wild boar (Sus scrofa) in Peninsular Malaysia. ASF was confirmed at our long-term study site in February 2022 and wild boar carcasses increased >100-fold in June 2022 compared to prior years. Camera trapping revealed an 87% decline in wild boar activity in 2022 compared to five prior surveys. Wild boars retired in old birthing nests and pairs of animals died next to each other in the open. Similar results are being anecdotally reported across the region with immense repercussions suspected on ecology and conservation. We urge a rapid research response to take advantage of this unique natural experiment.

Matthew Scott Luskin, Jonathan H. Moore, Calebe P. Mendes, Musalmah Bt Nasardin, Monubu Onuma, Stuart J. Davies
Wildlife Letters