By uprooting carbon trapped in soil, wild pigs are releasing around 4.9 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide annually across the globe, the equivalent of 1.1 million cars.
An international team led by researchers from The University of Queensland and The University of Canterbury have used predictive population models, coupled with advanced mapping techniques to pinpoint the climate damage wild pigs are causing across five continents.
UQ’s Dr Christopher O’Bryan said the globe’s ever-expanding population of feral pigs could be a significant threat to the climate.
“Wild pigs are just like tractors ploughing through fields, turning over soil to find food,” Dr O’Bryan said.
“When soils are disturbed from humans ploughing a field or, in this case, from wild animals uprooting, carbon is released into the atmosphere.
“Since soil contains nearly three times as much carbon than in the atmosphere, even a small fraction of carbon emitted from soil has the potential to accelerate climate change.