Since the 2018 emergence of African swine fever in China, the viral disease has torn through Asia, leaving behind a trail of economic devastation. It’s witheringly fatal to pigs but harmless to humans, and at least 100 million pigs have either been cut down by ASF or culled in a grisly campaign aimed at corralling the disease. Over the past two years, the disease has hopped China’s land and sea borders and swept across pig-rich Southeast Asia. Previously unknown to the immune systems of the region’s domestic and wild pigs, the virus moves readily from pig to pig, ripping through a single farm in a matter of weeks and leaving listless, coughing, dying pigs in its wake. Now, according to recent research, it could also jeopardize the foundations of food security and local economies, threaten endangered animals — including but not limited to Southeast Asia’s kaleidoscope of unique wild pig species — and imperil entire ecosystems. In a study published Dec. 21 in the journal Conservation Letters, a team of biologists is calling on countries across Southeast Asia to use every tool available to halt the spread of the disease. Visayan warty pigs (Sus cebifrons) at a wallow in the Philippines. Image by Shukran888 via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0). Anchors of the ecosystem Southeast Asia has a lot of islands — more than 25,000, at last count. As with Darwin’s finches in the Galápagos, evolution has hewn a remarkable cast of curious species living on the islands. Few animal…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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