Invasive species of feral pig helps South American biodiversity

Species that are unnaturally introduced to a new environment are usually detrimental to the ecosystem’s biodiversity and health. But, for the Brazilian Pantanal in South American, a relatively new mammal has done just the opposite and aided the wildlife conservation and local culture of the area.

feral pigs usually destroy biodiversities, but in South America, they help the environment flourish. Photo from www.uniprot.org.

feral pigs usually destroy biodiversities, but in South America, they help the environment flourish. Photo from http://www.uniprot.org.

Two hundred years ago, feral pigs, also known as Sus scrofa, were introduced to the large freshwater wetlands of Brazilian Pantanal. The pigs were a huge threat in other environments around the world because of their rooting behavior and large appetites. This usually damaged the lifestyle of smaller mammals and plants.

People released the pigs into Brazilian Pantanal hoping the commercial bush meat hunting would stop and the hunters would turn their attention to the abundant pigs. The hunting of the native wildlife became so great an environmental problem, prohibitive legislation was passed in 1967 to ban hunting and pelt and skin trades.

Pantanal residents were allowed to hunt the feral pigs and found it easier and more rewarding than hunting other species. The pigs provided the hunters with an easy hunt, fresh meat and oil. The local hunting practices of these people continue to help keep the population on a steady level, according to an Environmental News Network article.

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