ESM Figure 6 - Ground underneath carcass 3 is stirred up from Behaviour of free ranging wild boar towards their dead fellows: potential implications for the transmission of African swine fever
2017-05-16T09:11:30Z (GMT) by
The behaviour of free ranging wild boar (Sus scrofa) towards carcasses of their conspecifics potentially infected with African swine fever (ASF) may significantly influence the course of an ASF epidemic. This study aims to better understand the behaviour of wild boar towards their dead fellows. Thirty-two wild boar carcasses on nine study sites in northeast Germany were monitored under field conditions by photo-trapping from October 2015 until October 2016. During this period, a total of 122 160 pictures were taken, thereof 16 111 pictures from wild boar. In both winter and summer, wild boar seemed to be particularly interested in the soil next to and underneath the carcasses. About one third of the visits of wild boar lead to direct contact with dead conspecifics. The contacts consisted mostly in sniffing and poking on the carcass. Under the given ecological and climatic conditions, there was no evidence for intra-species scavenging. However, piglets were observed several times chewing bare bones once skeletonization of the carcasses was complete. It must be assumed that all these types of contact may represent a risk for transmission. Both the high tenacity of ASF virus and the long time wild boar carcasses can remain in the environment, allow the persistence of the virus for several months or even years. We therefore consider the rapid detection and removal (or destruction on the spot) of contaminated carcasses as an important control measure against ASF in wild boar.