Native to France and widespread throughout other European countries but almost extinct in the UK, the wild boar is a much maligned, but very tasty creature.
Essentially, a wild pig they are now being reintroduced into the UK’s forests as it has been proved that they are beneficial for the habitat as their constant foraging encourages the spread of plants and trees.
Looking at the head of the sanglier which adorns the wall of our local café, you would be hard-pressed to think of a single reason why you would want to have anything to do with this creature. Huge, hairy and with large tusks, it can be a frightening sight if you come across one when you’re least expecting to.
I used to encounter them late at night when I was returning from the airport after a trip. It was quite normal to see two or three of them wandering around the rubbish bins looking for any tasty treats, but you had to be careful. Hit one of these beasts at speed and your car would be wrecked.
We also found them in our garden occasionally. Every now and then Shadow would stand at the top of the terraces and bark his head off which is not something he normally does – not even when a burglar walked past him in the lounge one night ! Getting the torch, I walked him down to the fence which separates the ‘garden’ from the wood and there they were – one huge female boar and three babies. They just stood and stared at us and then wandered calmly off, as Shadow thanked his lucky stars that there was quite a substantial fence keeping him well separated from the female sanglier. Like all mothers, they are very protective of their young and can inflict serious injuries if they charge.
Apart from the threat to life and limb though, they also create havoc in the garden. It’s not unusual to come out one morning after it’s been raining heavily to find a boar trough where one or more of these creatures has just rolled about, typically on a lawn, creating a huge hollow, devoid of grass and full of water and mud.
Our Swedish neighbours, who only use the place for holidays, decided to have a lawn put down one weekend. It was all done very quickly by the garden company who used rolls of ready-made grass. When finished, it looked immaculate - I don’t have a flat space for a patch of grass and I was extremely jealous.
The following morning as I walked past their house, there was a scene of utter devastation. Obviously some boars had decided that by watering newly laid grass, the worms would come to the surface and, strip by strip, they had actually rolled up the grass and ripped the soil apart in their search for supper.
And that’s the problem out here in summer. Water your plants at night and you risk a few hungry boar tearing your flower beds to shreds.
But hey. Simmered slowly for a couple of hours in a casserole – they don’t half taste good!