Leveraging Technology to Combat ASF: How Sweden Controlled the Virus In Less than 3 Months

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  • Leveraging Technology to Combat ASF: How Sweden Controlled the Virus In Less than 3 Months

The appearance of African Swine Fever (ASF) in one’s borders is a moment that many countries have surely been dreading over the past years.

This concern is unsurprising given the resources required to tackle the virus, which if left unchecked can wreak havoc on communities and industry alike.

With the threat of ASF ever looming, countries are understandably looking for new solutions and approaches to prepare for and combat the inevitable emergence of the virus.

Sweden therefore serves as an excellent case study for analysis, with the country having swiftly suppressed ASF within three months of its first appearance.

After crossing over into Sweden back in September 2023, the country is now almost ready to declare itself completely free of the virus.

How was this achieved? The large numbers of hunters and wide-scale support for hunting as a wildlife management practice in Sweden most definitely played an integral part.

Much of the success, however, can be attributed to the technological hunting infrastructure already in place through the widescale use of Natlink’s WeHunt platform.

Natlink is one of the largest hunting tech companies in Europe, with over 750,000 people signed up as users on their WeHunt platform. In Sweden alone, some 300,000 hunters currently have the app installed on their phones.

WeHunt offers solutions to help different types of hunters and landowners, assisting in the organisation, execution and analysis of hunts.

From displaying real-time GPS data from hunting dogs and live camera footage from game cameras, to facilitating data analysis post-hunt, the platform can be described as a modernisation of the age-old hunting experience.

It is this infrastructure that helped shape Sweden’s approach to tackling the emergence of ASF.

Swedish hunters sprang into action upon hearing the news; within the first 48 hours some 400 hunters travelled to an area just outside Fagersta in Västmanland where the initial incident was recorded.

With features such as tracking, documentation and marking integrated into the application, hunters were able to conduct a coordinated and efficient search effort immediately. Volunteers were able to take pictures of carcasses, note locations, divide areas for search and record search paths using WeHunt.

The Swedish Veterinary Agency (SVA) was also able to follow the search using data from the application. The joint efforts of all stakeholders ultimately lead to restrictions being lifted within three months, and the near eradication of ASF within less than a year.

Work is underway to integrate WeHunt into official state wildlife management systems, facilitating the reporting of data and the calculation of quotas.

This wider adoption of WeHunt – and the best practices already seen in Sweden – should lead the way for similar applications and use cases in other countries on the road ahead.

For more on Natlink and the WeHunt platform, please see the presentation by Natlink CEO, Carl von Eckermann, at the recent 70th General Assembly in Cascais.