Swine fever: Alert in Kaziranga National Park after recovery of 28 pig carcasses

There have been reports of pig farmers disposing of carcasses in the Brahmaputra and its tributaries after the outbreak of African Swine Fever in mid-April

Updated - May 04, 2020 01:03 pm IST

Published - May 04, 2020 12:49 pm IST - GUWAHATI:

The recovery of 28 pig carcasses from a stretch of the Brahmaputra river flowing through the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) has alarmed wildlife officials in Assam.

There have been reports of pig farmers disposing of carcasses in the Brahmaputra and its tributaries after the outbreak of African Swine Fever (AFS) in mid-April. The State’s Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department said the disease, earlier suspected to be classical swine fever, has killed more than 2,500 pigs.

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The Brahmaputra unevenly bisects the one-horned rhino habitat into four divisions on its southern bank and the Biswanath Division on its northern bank. The KNP has a total area of 1,030 sq km as a tiger reserve with 430 sq km being its core area.

“Our Biswanath Division removed 28 bodies from the river and had them disposed properly to prevent the disease from spreading. But a major worry is the contamination of the river water which the animals and people in these parts use for drinking,” KNP Director P. Sivakumar told The Hindu from Bokakhat, where the headquarters of the park is located.

Bokakhat is about 240 km east of Guwahati.

Complaint lodged

Biswanath’s Divisional Forest Officer Mukut Das said a complaint had been lodged with Assam police’s river patrolling wing for finding out and taking necessary action against people who dumped the carcasses in the rivers.

The Assam government had last week issued an advisory to the national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests to be on guard because of the AFS outbreak.

The advisory said the likelihood of wild pigs in certain wildlife habitats coming in contact with domestic pigs reared in the vicinity could lead to the infection of wild animals. Wildlife officials said the disease could also spread to carnivores, especially the scavengers, if they feed on the diseased carcasses.

Manoj Basumatary, the founding president of Northeast Progressive Pig Farmers’ Association, said the AFS had affected the pig farmers who had already been hit by the COVID-19 lockdown.

With some 21 lakh domestic pigs, Assam heads the ₹8,000-crore pork market in the northeast.

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