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Old 27th Nov 2019, 14:00
  #24 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Australia
Posts: 371
African Swine Fever. An opportunity for mustering and drone operators?

Source: Australian Aviation Issue 375 (Dec '19).

Australian Pork Limited’s CEO Margo Andrae recently told ABC News an African Swine Fever outbreak in Australia would cost $2 billion over five years. Not only is our pork supply at stake but the jobs of 36,000 Australians are at risk,” Ms Andrae said. The disease is extremely contagious and is 80% fatal.

There is no vaccine for the disease yet, and it has been estimated more than 200 million pigs have become victims around the globe. Margo stated feral pigs in Australia are not yet infected. However, if they were, it would be a disaster, as the disease is so contagious. It would spread quickly into our domestic pork industry. Margo later stated we must try and eradicate our feral pigs before the disease comes across from Timor Leste. It would be far too late if we waited until it is detected on our shores. “When an uninfected feral pig is euthanised; say by an aerial shooting program, we can leave the carcass to rot. However, a dead infected pig must be taken away to a quarantine area and destroyed otherwise other pigs eating the infected carcass would become infected. Removal of infected carcasses would be a logistic nightmare; especially in rugged terrain!”, said Margo.

China recently announced they were now short of 10 to 20,000 tons of pork each year due to the mass slaughtering of diseased animals. They look to Australia to send beef to provide the protein to replace pork losses. But we are suffering from a severe drought and floods which caused an enormous loss of cattle recent years and cannot met China’s demands. Australia achieved many accolades for the eradication of bovine tuberculosis from 1970 to 1997. This involved a large number of aerial shooters, and the extensive use of light helicopters.

Today, the number of piston engined helicopters Australia number almost 1,400 of which one third are probably involved within the mustering industry and able to carry out aerial culling of feral animals. The eradication of feral pigs prior to African Swine Fever getting to Australia would require enormous resources; however, there is no other option. This creates an opportunity for the light helicopter and drone operators to suggest a plan for an eradication program. As feral pigs very active after dark, new drone technologies could be used at night, allowing another cost-effective solution.

The pending availability of small armed drones may be another weapon against feral pigs!
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