A close up image of moss on trees in an ancient woodland

Wild Boar: The Unsung Hero of Rewilding

“The rage of a wild boar is able to spoil more than just one wood.” George Herbert
A close up image of moss on trees in an ancient woodland

Wild Boar

The Iberian Wild Boar (Sus scrofa. castilianus) is a bane of our tree planters, an uncanny forager, an unsung rewilder and a winner of climate change. Read on to learn more…

1. The Uncanny Forager

2. Boar Behaviour

3. Its habitat

4. A Hero of Rewilding

5. Winner of Climate Change

The Iberian Wild Boar (Sus scrofa. castilianus) is a bane of our tree planters, an uncanny forager, an unsung rewilder and a winner of climate change. Read on to learn more…

1. The Uncanny Forager

2. Boar Behaviour

3. Its habitat

4. A Hero of Rewilding

5. Winner of Climate Change

The Uncanny Forager

Wild Boar typically grow to a length of 120cm, a height of 65cm and weight of 70 – 90kg, but on occasions can reach up to 150kg. Despite their weight, they are agile and can reach speeds of up to 50 kilometers per hour (31 mph) over short distances. They are also excellent swimmers and are renowned among hunters for their intelligence.

What they lack in vision, they make up for in a strong sense of smell and sound, which they use to great effect to detect buried food up to 100m, and to evade their predators. They have long thick black hairs on their body and mane, which when faced with danger, they bristle to appear larger and more imposing in front of their adversary.

A wild boar with mud all over his snout

The Uncanny Forager

Wild Boar typically grow to a length of 120cm, a height of 65cm and weight of 70 – 90kg, but on occasions can reach up to 150kg. Despite their weight, they are agile and can reach speeds of up to 50 kilometers per hour (31 mph) over short distances. They are also excellent swimmers and are renowned among hunters for their intelligence.

A wild boar with mud all over his snout

What they lack in vision, they make up for in a strong sense of smell and sound, which they use to great effect to detect buried food up to 100m, and to evade their predators. They have long thick black hairs on their body and mane, which when faced with danger, they bristle to appear larger and more imposing in front of their adversary.

Wild Boar Behaviour

The wild boar is usually sedentary during the day preferring to move around at night and in the early hours of the morning. They can travel considerable distances from 2 – 15km, normally using the same routes and passes. Except for the older males, which are solitary, wild boars live and roam in close-knit, well-organized groups, also known as sounders of around 20, and are led by sows.

Two young wild boar sows playing in a woodland
Two young wild boar sows playing in a woodland

Wild Boar Behaviour

The wild boar is usually sedentary during the day preferring to move around at night and in the early hours of the morning. They can travel considerable distances from 2 – 15km, normally using the same routes and passes. Except for the older males, which are solitary, wild boars live and roam in close-knit, well-organized groups, also known as sounders of around 20, and are led by sows.

A wild boar walking through a forest

What wild boars lack in vision, they make up for in a strong sense of smell and sound, which they use to great effect to detect buried food and evade predators.

Habitat

The “Javali” like to live in the “Mata”, the large areas of dense undergrowth that surround our woodlands in Portugal. These were once fields that over the years have become covered in gorse, scrub oaks, broom, brambles and other bushes.

Wild boars graze throughout the summer and in autumn gorge on fallen acorns, roots, seeds, fruits and lay waste to farmers crops. When the ground is soft, from autumn through to late spring, they like to rootle – turning over clods of earth with their snouts, in search of roots and rhizomes, earthworms and other invertebrates.

Thick bramble and bushes make for an excellent  wild boar habitat
A large black wild boar in a watering hole

An Unsung Hero of Rewilding

Wild boars are the unsung heroes of rewilding. Their excessive rootling exposes bare soil, allowing pioneer plants and so called ‘weeds’ to colonise. Soil exposed by rootling is also swiftly colonised by solitary bees, and the over-turned clods of earth kick-start the creation of anthills which, in turn, provide food for local birdlife.

As disappointing as it is to find some of our young trees uprooted by wild boar, we know that this is all part of the intricate workings of a healthy ecosystem and another reason as to why we plant an additional 30% buffer of trees.

Winner of Climate Change

As a conservationist, it’s rare yet refreshing to say that boars are not in any immediate danger. Their numbers across Europe have been surging as a result of global warming and the large-scale cultivation of maize and rapeseed for biofuel.

Recent warmer winters have reduced the death rate of older boars and of young ones born late in the year. What’s more, the rise in CO2 levels has intensified the sunlight and led trees to produce more acorns and chestnuts – a high-energy delicacy for boars, whose reproduction naturally increases with the amount of food available.

With large areas of agricultural land in Europe devoted to cultivating maize and rapeseed (a fond staple food of the boar), farmers have inadvertently created veritable supermarkets where the boar can gorge themselves protected and unperturbed.

 

Habitat

The “Javali” like to live in the “Mata”, the large areas of dense undergrowth that surround our woodlands in Portugal. These were once fields that over the years have become covered in gorse, scrub oaks, broom, brambles and other bushes.

Thick bramble and bushes make for an excellent  wild boar habitat

Wild boars graze throughout the summer and in autumn gorge on fallen acorns, roots, seeds, fruits and lay waste to farmers crops. When the ground is soft, from autumn through to late spring, they like to rootle – turning over clods of earth with their snouts, in search of roots and rhizomes, earthworms and other invertebrates.

An Unsung Hero of Rewilding

Wild boars are the unsung heroes of rewilding. Their excessive rootling exposes bare soil, allowing pioneer plants and so called ‘weeds’ to colonise. Soil exposed by rootling is also swiftly colonised by solitary bees, and the over-turned clods of earth kick-start the creation of anthills which, in turn, provide food for local birdlife.

A large black wild boar in a watering hole

As disappointing as it is to find some of our young trees uprooted by wild boar, we know that this is all part of the intricate workings of a healthy ecosystem and another reason as to why we plant an additional 30% buffer of trees.

Winner of Climate Change

As a conservationist, it’s rare yet refreshing to say that boars are not in any immediate danger. Their numbers across Europe have been surging as a result of global warming and the large-scale cultivation of maize and rapeseed for biofuel.

Recent warmer winters have reduced the death rate of older boars and of young ones born late in the year. What’s more, the rise in CO2 levels has intensified the sunlight and led trees to produce more acorns and chestnuts – a high-energy delicacy for boars, whose reproduction naturally increases with the amount of food available.

With large areas of agricultural land in Europe devoted to cultivating maize and rapeseed (a fond staple food of the boar), farmers have inadvertently created veritable supermarkets where the boar can gorge themselves protected and unperturbed.

The sun setting over a field of maize

 

 

 

Farmers have inadvertently created veritable supermarkets where the wild boar can gorge themselves protected and unperturbed.

The sun setting over a field of maize

 

 

 

Farmers have inadvertently created veritable supermarkets where the wild boar can gorge themselves protected and unperturbed.

Sources & further reading

✅ for peer reviewed research

  1. 1. “Rewilding the Scottish Highlands: Do Wild Boar, Sus scrofa, Use a Suitable Foraging Strategy to be Effective Ecosystem Engineers?” – C Sandom, J Hughes 2013Restoration EcologyResearch Gate – researchgate.net 
  2. 2. “Wild boars are gaining ground – Climate change boosts population growth” – Science Daily – sciencedaily.com
  3. 3. “Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) populations in Europe” – J.Tack 2018 – European Landowners Organization europeanlandowners.org 
  4. 4. “The Role of Rewilding in Landscape Design for Conservation” Richard T. Corlett 2016 – Current Landscape Ecology Reports Volume 1, Issue 3 – Springer Link – link.springer.com  ✅
  5. 5. “Wild boar in Portugal” FILIPE J. VITORINO LOPES AND JOSÉ M. FONSECA BORGES  2004 – Galemys – secem.es  ✅

Sources & further reading

✅ for peer reviewed research

  1. 1. “Rewilding the Scottish Highlands: Do Wild Boar, Sus scrofa, Use a Suitable Foraging Strategy to be Effective Ecosystem Engineers?” – C Sandom, J Hughes 2013Restoration EcologyResearch Gate – researchgate.net 
  2. 2. “Wild boars are gaining ground – Climate change boosts population growth” – Science Daily – sciencedaily.com
  3. 3. “Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) populations in Europe” – J.Tack 2018 – European Landowners Organization europeanlandowners.org 
  4. 4. “The Role of Rewilding in Landscape Design for Conservation” Richard T. Corlett 2016 – Current Landscape Ecology Reports Volume 1, Issue 3 – Springer Link – link.springer.com  ✅
  5. 5. “Wild boar in Portugal” FILIPE J. VITORINO LOPES AND JOSÉ M. FONSECA BORGES  2004 – Galemys – secem.es  ✅