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Institute of Epidemiology (IfE)

Working group Forensics in Wild Boar

What happens, when a wild boar dies and decomposes in the wild?

How do its conspecifics react? Which scavengers use the carcass? How long does it take until the carcass is decomposed? How can the post-mortem interval be estimated, when a dead wild boar is found?

The group “Forensics in Wild Boar” deals with these questions, because

  • The role of wild boar carcasses in the epidemiology of African swine fever (ASF) needs to be analysed. Since the ASF-virus is highly stable in the environment, it must be assumed that the body of an animal that has died of ASF is a potential source of infection for susceptible animals as long as it is not fully decomposed.
  • So far, little is known about the decomposition process of wild boar carcasses. A thorough understanding of the decomposition and related timelines is necessary, however, for estimating the post-mortem interval of an ASF-infected animal in the event of the introduction of ASF into a wild boar population. The post-mortem interval can help to assess the size of the affected area.


For Download

  • In summer, fly maggots can skeletonize even large carcasses within a few days:
    Video (Link to the mp4 file on springer.com)
  • In winter, large scavengers such as the fox ensure that carcasses are recycled:
    Video (Link to the mp4 file on springer.com)


Here you can find a questionnaire for a wild boar carcass found in the field. It may be used to record the most relevant information on the place of finding. Further data, e.g. weather, are not covered by the questionnaire, but may be added later if needed. The photographic documentation of the carcass and its surroundings is of utmost importance (“a picture is worth a thousand words”).

Here you can find a Partial Body Scoring (PBS) scheme originally developed for humans (Galloway et al. 1989; Megyesi et al. 2005) and later modified for domestic pigs (Keough et al. 2017), in comparison with the simplified system adapted to wild boar, which was used as basis for the above mentioned questionnaire. The numbers in brackets indicate the scores assigned to each change. The PBS of the head, trunk and limbs are assessed independently. Four decomposition stages are distinguished: fresh, early decomposition, advanced decomposition, and skeletonization.


Galloway, A.; Birkby, W.H.; Jones, A.M.; Henry, T.E.; Parks, B.O. Decay rates of human remains in an arid environment. J Forensic Sci 1989, 34, 607-616.

Megyesi, M.S.; Nawrocki, S.P.; Haskell, N.H. Using accumulated degree-days to estimate the postmortem interval from decomposed human remains. J Forensic Sci 2005, 50, 618-626.

Keough, N.; Myburgh, J.; Steyn, M. Scoring of Decomposition: A Proposed Amendment to the Method When Using a Pig Model for Human Studies. J Forensic Sci 2017, 62, 986-993.