Sus Barbatus (Bornean Bearded Pig) – file photo
KOTA KINABALU: Recent sightings of the Sus Barbatus wild pigs in several districts, including Nabawan, Kinabatangan, and Lahad Datu, have sparked hope for the species’ recovery after their population was almost decimated by the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus.
The increased reported sightings of families of wild pigs may indicate the species’ potential to rebound and restock, nearly two years after the ASF outbreak in 2020 that led to a ban on hunting these animals.
However, Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Industry Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan urged the public to be cautious as his Ministry is still awaiting confirmation on the species and the veracity of the recent sightings.
“We anticipate making an announcement regarding the lifting of the hunting ban soon. However, the decision, which we hope to make in the next six months, will depend on the authenticity of these sighting reports,” he said.
He said the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) will continue to monitor the ASF situation closely.
Meanwhile, Dr Jeffrey acknowledged that pork prices in the market have been escalating.
“The increasing prices are due to a combination of factors. As we all know, the ASF has complicated the issue of supply in the state but at the same time, the cost of animal feed has also continued to rise,” he explained.
He said fluctuations in feed prices are not uncommon and can be influenced by a variety of factors, including grain prices, global supply and demand, and even weather conditions affecting crop yields.
“As these prices rise, they inevitably contribute to the escalating costs of producing pork, thereby impacting market prices,” he said.
In response to the recent protest by a group of locals demanding the cancellation and relocation of the Pig Farming Area (PFA) in Tongod, Dr Jeffrey said the Government acknowledged the protesters’ concerns.
“However, it’s crucial to understand that this 500-acre land was always intended to be a centralised pig farming area. We’re envisioning it as a modern farming industry complex,” he said.
Dr Jeffrey further clarified that the DVS will maintain constant supervision over the complex to ensure that operators adhere to stringent rules and regulations, especially concerning the waste management system.
“Our priority is to maintain a balance between the industry’s needs and the community’s concerns. We are committed to ensuring that this complex operates responsibly and with minimal environmental impact,” he said.