Portugal’s wild boar population has increased almost five-fold during the pandemic.
With African Swine Fever already a concern (it is spread by wild boar, and already identified in Germany and Belgium click here), pig farmers are now worried by new limits on hunting, brought in following the December ‘massacre’ of wildlife on an estate in Azambuja.
Producers predict wild boar will encroach on farmland, destroying crops and threatening livestock.
Explains Jacinto Amaro of the Portuguese hunting federation, “if there were around 100.000 wild boar threatening rural properties before the pandemic, there must now be almost 500,000”.
It has long been stressed that these animals ‘do not respect frontiers’, multiplying the risk of African Swine Fever arriving at Portugal’s doors.
If this happens, the only solution is a cull, which would put the lucrative ‘black pork industry’ and that of ‘presuntos’ (cured ham) at risk.
As hunting has been vastly curtailed during the pandemic, Mr Amaro claims rural properties can expect “incalculable damages in the next few months, as much in terms of agriculture as with livestock.
In certain parts of the country already there have been reports of wild boar attacking sheep and killing their lambs (and eating them) – and in the Algarve boar have attacked calves, writes tabloid Correio da Manhã.
Nonetheless, these creatures tend to keep away from humans and it is very rare to see them during the day. Nature enthusiasts delight in posting nighttime clips of their antics and do not agree in the least with the demonisation of this species.