A recent survey studying the impact of Iberian wild boar in the Tablas de Daimiel National Park has come to the conclusion that the population causes a serious threat to the ecosystem and threatens the reproductive success of aquatic birdlife in the area.
The Complutense University of Madrid and scientists from the Research Institute of Hunting Resources (IREC) has published the study in the journal Ecological Indicators, points out that the increase in wild boar that is taking place in almost 80% of the wetlands in Castilla la Manchaalso affects adversely the population of the wild rabbit, which is a key prey food species for many threatened top level predators
The research has shown that the wild boar, thanks to its characteristics as an omnivorous, prolific and highly adaptable mammal, is expanding in the twenty-six wetlands analyzed, especially in the Tablas de Daimiel National Park, where its impact is reaching “ unsustainable levels”, warn the authors adding “The protection of certain environments and especially the absence of hunting favor the proliferation of wild boar, which has a cascading effect on the entire ecosystem.
Subspecies in Spain: Sus scrofa castilianus (Thomas, 1912) and Sus scofra baeticus (Thomas, 1912)
Body length: 120 cm.
Tail length: 22cm.
Height at the withers: 65 cm.
Weight: Males between 70 and 90 kgs., Females between 40 and 65 kgs. Occasionally even 150 kgs.
Lifespan: 20 years recorded in captivity 8 to 12 years in the wild
Description and Habits
The Iberian Wild Boar – Sus scrofa – Jabali is a medium-sized mammal with a large and elongated head and very small eyes. The neck is thick and the legs are very short, which further accentuates its plump body. The forequarters are bigger than the hindquarters which is unlike the domestic pig that has been bred to develop the rear of its body to be larger in order to reach the highest value in the meat market.
On the Iberian Peninsula there are two subspecies of Wild Boar – Sus scofra – Jabali that can be differentiated by their appearance (somewhat) and geographic location.
Sus scrofa castilianus is distributed in the north of the Iberian Peninsula, it has a larger body size and a lighter and thicker more bristly coat
Sus scrofa baeticus is distributed in the south of the Iberian Peninsula and is of smaller build with less hair but is much darker in colouration.
Although the wild boar has very poor eyesight its sense of smell is highly developed allowing it to detect food and danger very efficiently. Hearing is acute and this animal can pick up sounds that are imperceptible to the human ear.
Their hairs are thick and black, measuring between 10 and 13 cm at the withers and about 16 cm at the tip of the tail. The color of the coat or hair is very variable and ranges from grayish to dark black, through reddish and brown colors. The legs and the contour of the muzzle are blacker than the rest of the body. The mane (especially in males) runs along the back from the forehead and can be raised as an aggresive gesture or when the animal feels threatened.
The wild boar adapts to all types of habitats as long as it has shrub cover and a food supply, although it prefers places with high vegetation where it can camouflage itself and abundant water to drink and wallow in mud. Its favorite habitats are holm oaks and deciduous or mixed forest massifs but is also found in the Mediterranean scrub and more recently in marshes (Tablas de Daimel National Park) where it’s overpopulation in recent year has caused a decline in both rabbit populations and nesting aquatic birds.
The breeding season starts in November and carries on through December and this is the time whem males will fight ferrociously for the right to mate with a female sometimes inflicting terrible wounds on each other.
Gestation lasts around three months and between february and April, one to six young are born. Although it is normal for the wild boar to have just one litter per year it is possibly that some have two. (One in early spring and one in late autumn). After 3 months the young are pretty much independent of their mother and are feeding independently.
Baby wild boars are incredibly cute with their characteristic longitudinal stripes along the golden body. The stripes disappear after about 4 to 6 months and their fur darkens.
Becoming sexualy mature at a very young age (females from 8 to 20 months and males at 8 months), it is not unheard of for a sow to give birth to her first litter before she is a year old.
Iberian Wild Boar – Sus scofra – Jabali is an omnivore that feeds on everything and anything it can find including roots, tubers, fruits and acorns as well as all kinds of vegetables, mushrooms, truffles, worms, insects, snails, reptiles, eggs, birds and rodents and carrion. The diet varies greatly depending on the geographic location and the season. (ie whats on offer at that time in that place)
Overpopulation and hunting
Apart from the Iberian Wolf there are no real natural predators of the Iberian Wild Boar and the human abandonment of many rural areas coupled with hunting bans in and around natural parks has caused a poulation explosion in Spain of this species.
It has been found in various studies that where the wild boar increases in population size,overall biodiversity decreases. (Even with its beneficial work of burying seeds and aeration of the earth by rooting taken into account.)
Many towns and cities across Spain are also populated by the Iberian Wild Boar including Murcia, Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid and almost all regions in Spain now have an emergency hunting policy in place (Including and especially inside the limits of many Natural Parks) in order to try and rebalance an already unbalanced eco system and habitat.
Iberia Nature Forum
Struggling with identifying those bugs and beasties? Why not check out the Iberia nature Forum!