Australian scientists studying feral pigs
The habits of feral pigs pose a challenge for Australian researchers seeking the necessary data to develop methods to control spread of the animals.
Although feral pigs are widespread in Australia, scientists at the
Invasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) wish to find out more about
their population structure and local movements.
Major targets are whether isolated (genetically distinct) feral pig
populations exist that could be controlled with less risk of re-colonisation
from surrounding feral pig populations.
This knowledge will assist scientists to develop methods of
reducing the impact of local feral pigs in high-value agricultural land or
conservation areas such as national parks, and their influence in spreading
infectious diseases to the intensive pig production
Important to this aim is to establish pig movements, and
researchers have developed a computerised system that uses Machine Vision
Technology (MVT) to distinguish pigs from sheep, goats, cattle, horses,
kangaroos and emus that are a normal component of the local
Machine vision is the ability of a
computer to 'see', and uses cameras, analogue-to-digital conversion, and digital
signal processing. The MVT uses miniaturised, energy-efficient
It can also read radio frequency identification ear tags to
identify individual animals. The system identifies animals and controls their
movements via automated gates to access watering or feed points.
The MVT technology also aims to stop the
artificial build-up of feral populations, especially pigs. Farmers on large
properties in remote areas often found it difficult to monitor which species
used the resources provided for livestock.
The Federal Government
has provided AUD 600,000 (€369,000) for the development and trial phases of the
â€¢ Invasive Animals Co-operative Research
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