New cases of African swine fever are being reported across Asia. South Korean officials confirmed at least nine outbreaks in less than two-weeks, especially near the inter-Korean border. Workers have destroyed thousands of pigs, but animal-rights groups are critical.
CGTN’s Shane Hahm has details, and viewers may find some of these images disturbing.
South Korea is in a fight to stop the spread of African swine fever, and as more and more farms are affected, authorities race quicker to limit the damage to livestock and farms.
Standard procedures require pigs and hogs to be culled and buried, but these images obtained from local animal rights groups tell a different story.
“We were able to witness pigs in a conscious state kicking and screaming while being forklifted before being buried alive,” said Kim Kyung-Eun, director of the group Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth, or CARE. “Doing this to these pigs while they’re still alive actually increases the risk of spreading the disease through saliva or blood from the scars of these pigs.”
Rights groups claim the government relies on private firms to carry out the work. But these firms fail to follow standard procedures and are rather focused on quickly disposing of the animals. Groups claim these methods are inhumane and violate local animal protection laws.
“When culling animals, shortening the time it takes to cull is the most important and thus lessening the pain these animals suffer,” said Kim. “But preventing the spread of this virus is also important. In order to do this, standards of procedure must be adhered to, and private workers must be properly trained.”
Quarantine officials have initiated movement bans at pig farms nationwide to try and stop the spread of the disease. All the confirmed cases, so far, have occurred at farms in the northern part of the country. When reached for comment, government officials maintained that standards of procedure are being strictly followed. There’s no doubt, however, that authorities are looking to stop the spread of African swine fever swiftly.
“The prime minister has called for near excessive resolve and the need for quick, preemptive measures,” said Kim Hyeon-Soo, South Korea’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “He’s also given orders for quarantine measures that surpass preexisting frameworks and manuals.”
Officials say they plan to cull 60,000 pigs, but that number could go up if the disease continues to spread. Fortunately, experts say the virus poses little harm to humans when consumed, but the long-term consequences could be far reaching, especially the economic implications for pig farms, distributors, and food industry workers.