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Pigs swimming across the Straits of Malacca

**This article was published in English and has no translation in Bahasa Melayu** 

By Associate Prof. Dr Hafidzi Mohd Noor

I referring to the Star online coverage dated Sept 5th regarding Melaka grappling with invasion of Indonesian wild pigs.

Snouts have been detected above the water line as they swam across the straits of Malacca from Sumatera. They were seen to use Pulau Besar as a transit point before moving across to the mainland.

This development is prompted by a number of situations on both sides of the narrow straits. Both are facing a diminishing population of tigers, the only predator of the wild boar.

With the fragmentation of natural forest, on both Sumatera and Peninsular Malaysia, such a movement is anticipated, in either direction.

While big scale migration may not be likely, such movements is bad news to both neighbours. Emigration from Sumatera is prompted by the rate deforestation, land clearing making way for agricultural crops and expansion of urban developments.

With disappearing Sumateran Tigers, which according to a present census, stand at only 600 individuals, the prolific wild boar may have to look for a new foraging ground. To avoid overcrowding, swimming across the Straits could be an option worth considering.

On this side of the Strait, the numbers of wild boar are no doubt on the rise too for the same reason. The Malayan tiger is also critically endangered, with numbers down to 250 nationwide.

Sprawling urbanization, rapid developments for housing, infrastructure, industrial estates means the wild boar will be pushed to the edge of the forest; and start invading the cities.

In recent years, wild boar has been reported to show up in public premises; supermarkets, libraries, schools, playground and even mosques. With their Indonesian cousins joining in, the public can anticipate more incidents of wild boar showing up in their midst.

Since the invading population from Sumatera is of the same sub-species to that of Malaysia i.e. Sus scrora vittatus, they will conveniently interbreed and perhaps produces more robust offspring, as they came from a separate gene pool.

The authorities have deployed shooters on the island of Pulau Besar, to cull the existing wild boar population there, joined recently by the new arrivals from Sumatera. Pulau Besar, where regular visitors frequent for religious regions would be ideal for wild boar to thrive. Stopping the potential built-up of the Wild boar in Pulau Besar is key to damping-off the invasion.

However, the invading population is of the same kind (sub species) to that of the local population, it is not considered as invasive. There would be no other implication other than a possible increase of Wild boar population on this end (the Peninsular).

There is a possibility of a population spill over into neighbouring states, as the west coast stretches north to Negeri Sembilan, Selangor and even Perak; and south to Johore. We recall the case of the invasive crows when they were brought in to Klang from India, at the turn of the last century.

Since the local population of wild boar may have reached near saturation in an already disturbed habitat, we do not anticipate a drastic increase from the Indonesian arrivals.

Nonetheless efforts in place to monitor the situation by the authorities is commendable and important. Regular census of the wild boar population in Malacca and neighbouring states should give us an assessment for mitigation purposes.

Associate Prof. Dr Hafidzi Mohd Noor

Department of Plant Protection

Faculty Agriculture

Date of Input: 23/10/2019 | Updated: 28/11/2019 | hairul_nizam

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