Close Encounter with Wild Boar

boar 1THE sun hasn’t yet risen above the eastern Alpujarras. The air is cool and fresh on the slopes of Sierra de Lujar. I lock the van and clump off up a track that leads, eventually and hopefully, to a high and remote farmstead above the pine forests. Behind me, the Sierra Nevada – the highest peaks in Spain – lift themselves from blue shadows into the dawn sky. They fill me with expectation. It’s going to be a memorable day . . .

Around the second bend in the track, and probably less than three-hundred metres from the main road to Orgiva, I enter a clearing full of shapes. These grey and black shapes are moving in the half-light; they are grunting and blowing; trampling the undergrowth.

Wild boar. This should not be happening. Alarm and confusion. I have blundered from the real world into a land of horror fantasy. These primaeval beasts are the stuff of nightmares, aren’t they, not animals indigenous to a modern European country?

And they are, to a trotter, every bit as terrifying as the boars depicted in fiction: great pyramidal spines; tufts of coarse spiky hair; powerful shoulders; stiff tails; unearthly noises.

Still confused and alarmed, I merely stand there watching, though aware I have strayed into a dangerous and potentially fatal situation. The boars, their foraging interrupted, move briskly up the track and into the trees, how many I don’t know because I am too stunned to count – perhaps a minimum of twelve and a maximum of twenty, some medium-sized and the rest big. And big is big.

boar 2Again I am alone. Peacefulness. What do I do now: proceed through the forest or return to my van? I have disturbed a herd of wild boar and they have retreated to darker places. They have given ground. Is that how it works? Do wild boar seek the shadows rather than confrontation?

Thoughts racing. Last year a Guardia Civil officer was killed by a boar. Gored to death. That’s a policeman with a firearm and trained how to use it. I have a pair of telescopic trekking poles from the camping shop in Richmond and a French penknife.

But my decision is made for me, because I become aware that a large dark shape has detached itself from the herd and is drifting purposefully through the undergrowth to my right. Rearguard action.

It’s a shadow in the shadows and it halts behind a tree, perhaps twenty metres away. I can make out half a head and an ear protruding from the trunk. In other circumstances this might appear comical, like a child attempting to hide. But this is a wild boar protecting its herd, on its own turf, in its native environment – and it’s watching me.

I retreat down the track a few paces and cast a backwards glance. I see the boar turn and vanish into the undergrowth. That’s the last I see of it – but not the last backwards glance I cast before regaining the main road.

I toss my gear into the van. Still in a state of shock I wonder what to do next. A walk to the high farmstead is out. It’s still only 7.15am. But – and I know this isn’t particularly fashionable – I have a Plan B.

To be continued . . .

boar 3FOOTNOTE
FROM WIKIPEDIA: Actual attacks on humans are rare, but can be serious, resulting in multiple penetrating injuries to the lower part of the body. They generally occur during the boars’ rutting season from November–January, in agricultural areas bordering forests or on paths leading through forests. The animal typically attacks by charging and pointing its tusks towards the intended victim, with most injuries occurring on the thigh region. Once the initial attack is over, the boar steps back, takes position and attacks again if the victim is still moving, only ending once the victim is completely incapacitated.

 

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About McFadzean

Alen McFadzean, journalist, formerly of the Northern Echo, in Darlington, and the North-West Evening Mail, Barrow. Former shipyard electrician. Former quarryman and tunneller. Climbs mountains and runs long distances to make life harder. Gravitates to the left in politics just to make life harder still. Now lives in Orgiva, Spain.
This entry was posted in Camping, Climbing, Environment, Footpaths, Hiking, Mountains, Walking, Wild boar, Wildlife and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Close Encounter with Wild Boar

  1. Hanna says:

    It’s probably a sight you never forget, Alen. Exciting and scary at the same time. A good job for the Norepinephrine 🙂
    Take care!!
    Hanna

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, adrenaline is broon and runs doon yer leg! Quite a memorable start top a day. The onlt beastiue I’ve seen here recently was a red deer stag peacefully grazing about 200m from the house. Much safer than boars I think 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John D says:

    Many years ago, a TV programme showed postmen being trained to deal with dangerous dogs. They were taught to look down and round their shoulders on the grounds that this posture sent a just-passing-through message. I experimented and found that the technique seems to relax a variety of domestic animals. It might work with wild boar.

    The other crucial factor is not surprising the animal. Dogs, for example, seem happy if they smell and hear a hiker before the hiker sees them (and Americans find bear bells useful). It’s hard to recommend noise when we want to see wildlife but if the wildlife is potentially dangerous…

    I saw one hundred metres of ground which had been ploughed by feral pigs near a hut in New Zealand. I didn’t wander around in the dark that evening after seeing how much power the pigs had at their disposal. You did well to stay calm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • McEff says:

      Hi John. Thanks for that. Sounds like some good, solid advice there. It’s good to know these things and then have a strategy in place for when the unexpected happens. I think what played in my favour was that I was so totally surprised that I just stood there in silence trying to take things in, rather than panic and make noises which might have sounded threatening.
      I shall be avoiding the forests at night and the early hours of the morning in future. Thanks for the tips.
      Regards, Alen

      Like

  4. I’m assuming you didn’t get your fingers chewed off, unless you typed this post with your nose. Wild boar have been released into a wood near where I live. Haven’t heard of folk being eaten yet, but give it time.

    I’ve been hassled by sheep and that was bad enough. Don’t know how I’d cope with a gang of wild porkers.

    Like

  5. Interesting post, as ever, Alen.
    I visit a house in France a few times a year where wild boar regularly scrub up the farthest garden area in the night. I was sufficiently curious to bivi out one night to see what was going on – lots of deer wandering about and owls hooting. Maybe I was lucky no boars appeared although at the time I was disappointed. I have come across them in the forests of Europe and they tend to run away very quickly but apparently don’t come between a parent and her youngsters.
    In Corsica [GR20] I remember the campsites were guarded by electric fences.
    We are not safe in England either – http://news.sky.com/story/public-warned-to-stay-away-from-missing-lynx-10494495
    Be careful out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • McEff says:

      Hi John. I saw the lynx story on the ITV news. I was amused by the fact the zoo opened to the public on the grounds it was probably the safest place to be because the lynx had fled.
      I’m not so sure I would have bivvied in the garden out of curiosity. In fact, I wouldn’t have. We once camped on a site near Royan, in the Girond, and one evening I went for a run through the forest. On my return a chap warned me about the wild boar. I didn’t go again. I’m scared of bears as well, but there aren’t any down here, thank god.
      Cheers, Alen

      Like

      • Talking of bears – out in Yosemite [yawn yawn] they were quite common. Whenever I came out of the tent early hours there would be one wandering around looking for food. We had bear boxes to store all our food and smelly things but the bears realised that when you were cooking the boxes could be open and they would wander in to try and steal food. Several very close encounters ensued, but I’m still here. Just don’t keep any food or toothpaste/soap in your tent!
        There were some legendary tales regarding bears.

        Liked by 1 person

        • McEff says:

          Thanks for that. I made the mistake of reading Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods several years ago and that put me off bears for life. The chances of me camping wild in Yosemite were pretty remote before I read your comment, and now they are more remote than ever.
          My closest encounter with a dangerous animal took place early one morning on the isle of Harris when my tent got trampled by a cow. That was pretty frightening.

          Like

  6. Made me think of our bear encounters in the States, too. Including a grizzly sleeping about 100 yards from our tent one night in Alaska… You need nail clippers, like in Bill Bryson’s book.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Team Kezmoh says:

    I once had a wild boar run across the road in front of my car in Andalucia. There are plenty of them here! Happy hiking!

    Like

    • McEff says:

      I think you’re a good bit to the west of me so there are obviously plenty of them about. I just hope they are getting plenty of stuff to eat and don’t develop a taste for hikers. Or runners!
      Cheers, Alen

      Like

  8. rthepotter says:

    Would NOT fancy that. There was a reason why all those wolves and bears and things were hunted down, back along in Merrie England. I’ve found cattle quite scary enough, on occasion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • McEff says:

      Hello Mrs P. I’m inclined to agree with you there. I’ve always viewed those people who want to reintroduce wolves to the Scottish Highlands as more than a little unhinged. Cattle, and especially those frisky bullocks that refuse to leave you alone, are the limit so far as I’m concerned.
      Cheers, Alen

      Like

  9. Bloody scary! A friend of mine actually bumped into wild boar in Scotland on the Corrieairack Pass – he was alone and pretty worried but luckily they ignored him. And I’m totally against the ‘re-introduction’ of all these dangerous wild species in Scotland too – especially as I almost always walk alone.
    Carol.

    Like

  10. If the first series of Game of Thrones was anything to go by wild boar are the sole reason for another five series being inflicted upon the world. Dangerous things indeed. Amazing experience, but can imagine the mix of excitement and terror was sending conflicting messages.

    Liked by 1 person

    • McFadzean says:

      Hi Paul. I must be one of the few people in the world who has never seen an episode of Game of Thrones – at some point in time I will acquire a box set. But I watched The Hobbit the other night, and there were some beasts that looked a cross between wolves and boars, and I felt quite uncomfortable.
      Cheers, Alen

      Like

  11. Inger says:

    What a scary encounter, not sure what I would do if I encounter one! Rumour has it they are supposedly quite aggressive and I am sure a human can’t outrun there guys.

    Like

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