A recent study has provided the global extent of damage caused by wild pigs which includes a huge contribution to carbon emissions. Published in the Global Change Biology last week, the study included scientists from the University of Queensland, University of Canterbury, and University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. In their study the team of eight researchers found that the cumulative area of soil uprooted by wild pigs is most likely the same area as Taiwan.
This releases 4.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, which is equal to that of one million cars. The study further mentioned that the majority of these emissions occur in Oceania.
For their research the team of scientists ran 10,000 simulations of wild pig population sizes in their non-native distribution, including in the Americas, Oceania, Africa and parts of Southeast Asia to gauge the global scale of their impact. For every simulation that was performed, researchers determined the amount of soil that wild pigs would disturb using another model from a different study. Scientists also sought local case studies to calculate the least and the most amount of wild pig-driven carbon emissions.
In their findings, researchers estimated that the soil uprooted by wild pigs worldwide each year is likely between 36,214 and 123,517 square kilometres which is roughly between the sizes of Taiwan and England. Since a large part of Earth’s carbon is stored in soil, releasing even a little amount of this into the atmosphere can result in a huge impact on climate change. In their conclusion, researchers found that most of the soil damage caused by the wild pigs and its associated emissions occur in Oceania due to the large distribution of the animal in the region. Another reason why Oceania is the largest producer of wild boar-related carbon emission is because of the amount of carbon stored in the soil in the area, mentioned the researchers.
Researchers have urged that efforts should be made to curb the widespread population of wild pigs to inhibit the carbon emissions that are leading to climate crisis.