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Our Close Neighbours - Wild Boar

Originally published in Green Country, Issue 123 (Dec 2016)
Author: Green Power

Wild Boar (Eurasian Wild Pig) is native to Hong Kong. The usually rural mammal occasionally finds its way into the city as it forages for food. Stories of big wild pigs attacking people frighten many people. In fact, Wild Boar are timid and usually avoid humans. The little piglets are even lovely. Let's learn more about our neighbours living just "next door"!

Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) is the largest wild animal in today's Hong Kong. It can reach 2 metres in body length and weigh over 300kg. This terrestrial species is widely distributed across Europe, Asia and Africa, and can adapt to various environments such as woodlands and wetlands. Wild Boar are omnivores, feeding on fruits, leaves, earthworms and small invertebrates.

Wild Boar resemble domestic pigs in appearance, and are actually their ancestors. Hence traces of Wild Boar can still be found in domesticated pigs, such as a highly developed sense of smell. In France, pigs were even trained to hunt truffles.

The acute sense of smell helps Wild Boar to find underground food such as plant rhizomes. Once the food is located, a boar will dig the soil with its protruding snout, which is not only supported with cartilage but can also identify food.

Striped piglets

Many people may think that pigs are all stupid and dull. Yet Wild Boar, according to researchers, can run in speed up to 40km per hour! We can never judge from simple appearances!

The adult Wild Boar and the piglet look totally different. The adult appears rough with its greyish black body. The piglets, on the other hand, are small and funny looking with light brown stripes like a chipmunk. The stripes fade away as a piglet grows to a few months old, and turn greyish black or brown.

Wild Boar are nocturnal animals, typically active at night. Yet in Hong Kong, Wild Boar may be found foraging for food during daytime. Occasionally some Wild Boar get lost in the city. Or we may encounter them as we go hiking in the countryside. Do not be afraid when you come across them. The animals are very timid and will usually stay away from humans. Do not chase after them or shout them away. They may then, out of self defence, attack people in such cases – particularly when the adults are taking their piglets and are most sensitive. Keep a distance from the Wild Boar and walk slowly away, and you will be safe.

Wild Boar are not as scary as legend has it. But we should not feed them as this will attract them into the city margins and away from their original habitat, changing their behaviour and increasing potential for conflicts between the animals and humans.

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© Stanley Chan
Wild Boar are nocturnal animals.
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© Stanley Chan
Wild Boar usually forage for food in groups.
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Juvenile Wild Boar (above) and Chipmunk (below) both look funny with similar stripes.
Image "Rayones" by Enrique Dans is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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Image "Tamia" by gulzmo_68 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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