FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

FAO and MammalNet joint app helps detect African swine fever in wild boar

African swine fever (ASF) can spread through several routes, including via the natural movement of wild boar. The virus is equally lethal to pigs and wild boar. Therefore, testing deceased wild boar for the presence of the ASF virus is the most reliable way to early detect (and react to) the disease in these populations. The animal is very likely to die within days of becoming infected, thus, if reported in time, wild boar carcasses can be destroyed or properly disposed of to decrease further contamination.

To this end, FAO joined forces with the MammalNet project team, in adding new features to their free mobile application, iMammalia, to report wild boar carcasses in the Balkans and beyond.

The app, already being used in Europe, was originally designed for easy recording the presence of mammals.

“Following the amendment of the iMammalia app, any user can now, within seconds, report the finding of a wild boar carcass, thus helping the fight against African swine fever,” said Mark Hovari, FAO animal health preparedness expert. “Users can report the geocoordinates, level of decomposition and gender, and even upload a photo of the carcass.”

Beyond the new function, FAO has also translated the app into Macedonian and Serbian languages and will facilitate the usage of the app by different target users in the Balkans.

Although hunters are the most common target group to encourage the finding of wild boar, hikers, rangers and basically anyone visiting the forest can greatly contribute to carcass discoveries. The more people out there looking for and reporting dead wild boar, the better for the authorities to keep the disease in check.

Within Europe, ASF has progressively spread all the way from Georgia, where it entered in 2007, into Central Europe, infecting most countries in its path. Today, the disease is already present in the Balkans, with Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Serbia reporting outbreaks, and threatens to spread throughout the whole Balkan region. Thus, the deadly disease comes with huge economic costs and considerable trade disruptions, seriously affecting rural livelihoods if not found in time.

“It can be challenging to find dead wild boar carcasses in the forest, but, as proven by several countries, it is not impossible if the awareness and incentives are right,” said Daniel Beltran-Alcrudo, FAO animal health officer.

The application is available both on Android and iOS.

24 August 2020, Budapest, Hungary