Print Posted By Lost in France on 22 Sep 2005 in Wildlife - Wildlife and nature in France

Wild Boar or Sanglier

Wild Boar

Widespread across the whole of France the Wild Boar ~ Sus scrofa scrofa or Sanglier as it is known by the French is much maligned by farmers who readily blame it for destruction & damage to crops - although this is disputed by some and there are many reports of farmers deliberately laying grain in fields to attract these beasts as the French Government pays out compensation to farmers for damage caused by the Sanglier.

The Boar is probably the most hunted mammal in France, much prized for its meat its estimated that 10's of thousands are killed each year by hunters. In France they are often hunted using dogs the lucky ones are given protective vests made of Kevlar (a woven material often used in the production of bullet proof vests and body armour) which offers some protection from the Boars tusks.

Wild Boar are often reported to be dangerous to man though this is largely unfounded. Although they are large and powerful beasts and are capable of causing much damage with their tusks they are on the whole shy retiring animals that are seldom seen but they may become aggressive in defence if they are cornered or frightened and as with all animals the female will understandably protect her young if she feels threatened.

Female wild boar suckling young

One popular urban myth in France is based around the tale of some men out driving through the forest one evening when they hit a large animal that runs out in front of their car. Getting out to investigate they find that they have hit a male boar, the poor animal isn't dead but has been knocked unconscious so they decide to lift it into the boot of the car.

Some miles further on they hear loud noises coming from the boot and turn round to see that the boar has recovered consciousness and is now very angrily making its way out of the boot. They are forced to abandon the car while the boar completes its exit pretty much writing off the car in the process.

The Wild Boar prefers to live in dense forests and undergrowth and is mainly nocturnal, living in close knit family groups, although older males tend to be solitary. Boar are omnivorous their diet consists mainly of berries, fruit, fungi, roots, grains and grass with acorns being a favourite, they will also root about in the soil for worms and insects.

Female boar with young

The Wild Boar has blackish grey short woolly fur growing in a mane along its shoulders. They have poor eyesight which is made up for by highly developed sense of smell and hearing. Males have large tusk like upturned canine teeth which are used for digging and defending themselves. Adults can weigh up to 200kg with some males attaining a huge 300kg. The young are much paler with light coloured stripes.

Breeding usually takes place between September and March during which time there can be violent confrontations between males as they fight over fertile females in the group. Gestation normally takes 115 days, with litters of between 4 & 7. The female boar suckles her young for 2 - 3 months and the young piglets are able to fend for themselves after about 6 months of age but will usually remain with the family group for around 2 years. The average lifespan of the Wild Boar is between 10 - 12 years, with young attaining adulthood in 5 - 6 years.

Wild boar in winter

There is also a hybrid of the Wild Boar & domestic pig which are known as Sanglochons, the name is taken from Sanglier and Cochon (meaning pig). Originally these hybrids were bred in Belgium and the north west of France around the turn of the last century.

Their popularity among farmers died out however but interest in the breed was revived again in the 1980's by farmers in the Alpes-Maritime region of France. Unfortunately for the farmers the meat didn't prove very popular and having no monetary value many farmers just released their Sanglochons into the wild.

Consequently unlike the true Wild Boar the Sanglochon is far less timid and there have been many complaints from residents in the region reporting that Sanglochons have been coming in to populated areas, routing through rubbish bins, digging up lawns and even drinking from swimming pools.

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