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Wild Boar Farming: Characteristics, Habitat, and Protection

The wild boar pig or simply wild boar (Sus scrofa), is a species of omnivorous and forest mammal of the Suidae family. This abundantly hunted species is also considered an engineering species, capable of developing adaptation strategies to the pressure of hunting, which sometimes makes it invasive. The domestic or common pig is a domestic subspecies of the wild boar.

Wild Boar Origin

The wild boar (Sus scrofa) is a breed of pig that is also known as pig or wild pig, Eurasian wild pig, or simply wild pig, it is native to much of Eurasia, North Africa, and the Sunda Islands. Human intervention has further extended its range, making the species one of the highest-ranking mammals in the world, as well as the highest-ranking mammal in the world.

Its wide range, high numbers, and adaptability make it classed as one of the least worrisome species by the IUCN and it has become an invasive species in part of its introductory range. The animal likely originated in Southeast Asia during the Early Pleistocene and outnumbered other species of Suidae as it spread through the Old World.

Characteristics

Seen in profile, the boar’s body appears to be squatting and looks massive. This impression is reinforced by the short and weak legs compared to the large body mass. In relation to the body, the head also seems almost oversized. It comes out in a wedge shape towards the front.

The eyes are well above the head and are directed diagonally forward. The ears are small and surrounded by a fringe of hairy bristles. The short, penetrated, and not very mobile neck is recognizable only if the wild boars wear their summer coat. In the winter coat, the head appears to pass directly to the torso.

The height decreases in the hind legs, the body ends in a tail, it is very mobile, reaching the heel joints. With it, the wild boar indicates its state of mind by means of pendulum or lifting movements. Seen from the front, the body appears narrow. The adult male animal is distinguished from the female by the shape of the snout. While in the female it is long and straight, in the male it appears shorter.

The weight and size are very different depending on the geographical distribution, the weight also varies depending on the season. As a general rule, body mass and height increase from southwest to northeast. Wild boars are fully grown from their fifth year of life; in Central Europe, the specimens have a head-torso length of 130 to 170 centimeters, the boars reach a length of 140 to 180 centimeters.

The maximum live weight of adult wild boars in Central Europe is about 150 kg and that of adult boars about 200 kg. At least five-year-old wild pigs in East Germany weigh between 43 and 95 kg without internal organs, and boars without internal organs between 54 and 157 kg. It is not possible to define the weight or the age of slaughter, since the hunting of wild animals is subject to the random principle.

Classification

The oldest known fossil finds that can be clearly attributed to wild boar date from the late Miocene in Europe (about 6 million years ago) and the early and middle Pleistocene in North America (about 1.8 million years ago). Within the genus Sus, the species closest to the wild boar is most likely the dwarf wild boar (Sus salvanius).

Behavior

Wild boars spend much of the day resting. To rest, they like to use special resting places, called boilers, which they use both individually and together. Sleepy warthogs are usually lying with their legs outstretched, either resting on the belly and stretching the front and rear legs forward or backward.

Wild boars live together in a maternal family, in the harem or in groups of animals from the previous year. Males, in particular, live alone. The most typical form of coexistence is the mother family, which consists of a female with her last offspring. Occasionally, the offspring of the female from the previous year remain with the mother, and therefore from time to time she is also the caretaker of the offspring.

The wild boar groups split up if the food supply is insufficient, if they are destroyed by hunting or other disturbances, or if the leader is killed. Due to the high mortality of the young, the forces of the group fluctuate very strongly. Groups of more than 20 animals are an exception in Central Europe.

Wild boar farming

Wild boar farming is a growing niche in the hog-rasing industry. In the Philippines, there is growing popularity in the farming of Baboy Ramo (a native wild boar). In the US and Canada, several farmers are already doing this as you can see in the video above. They say that the meat of the wild boar is lean, juicy, and has lower cholesterol than the common domestic pig breeds.

Habitats

Wild boars adapt to a wide variety of habitats, and this is partly due to the fact that they are omnivores that quickly open up new food niches. Due to their ability to open the ground, wild boars have access to food that is not available to other large mammals.

Their strong teeth can even break down hard-shelled fruits like coconuts. They are also excellent swimmers and have good thermal insulation to adapt to wetlands. Thanks to these capabilities, the boreal coniferous forest, the reed-covered swamps, and the evergreen rain forest are some of the habitats that can be colonized by wild boars.

Distribution
The wild boar is a very widespread game animal throughout Eurasia, as well as in Japan and parts of the South Asian islands, in approximately 20 subtypes. The area of ​​distribution has changed several times over the millennia. During the cold seasons, the range shifted several times in the eastern and southern directions and expanded again in the western and northern directions during the warm periods.

The eastern specimen originally ran after the last ice age from the British Isles, Southern Scandinavia, and Morocco in the west over all of Central and Southern Europe, Central and Near Asia, North Africa, Central and Near Asia, and Hinterindien to Eastern Siberia, Japan and Vietnam in the east, before overcoming Sumatra and Java.

In North Africa, it was widespread until a few centuries ago along the Nile Valley, south of Khartoum and north of the Sahara. Meanwhile, the wild boar is considered rare in North Africa. The subspecies Sus scrofa libycus, formerly found from southern Turkey to Palestine, and the subspecies Sus scrofa barbarus, formerly native to Egypt and Sudan, are considered extinct. On the Arabian peninsula, wild boars are found only in the extreme north.

Feeding

Wild boar searches the soil for edible roots, worms, larvae, mice, snails, and fungi while searching for food. In addition to aquatic plants such as squid, wild boars also eat leaves, shoots, and fruits of numerous woody plants, herbs, and grasses. As omnivores, they also carry carrion and waste.

Wild boars have been observed to break through rabbit burrows to feed on young rabbits. Occasionally, the eggs and young birds of birds that breed on the ground fall victim to them. In dry waters, they even eat mussels. Wild boars also like to graze on clover and eat the above-ground plant parts of sweet grass, sorrel, and meadow parsley, as well as oak leaves.

Predators

Wild boar’s natural enemies are tigers, wolves, and brown bears. The lynx, fox, bobcat, and eagle owl also occasionally strike young animals. In the case of wolves, wild boars represent the main link, with which the portion varies according to the habitat.

In a study conducted in northern Europe in the early 1980s, 47% of wolf droppings contained the remains of wild boar. In other regions of Russia, similar studies concluded that wild boars account for up to 80% of prey in spring and summer and 40% in autumn.

When hunting, the wolves rush the group of wild boars over a greater distance and try to separate an animal from the group. Especially young animals are victims of them since adult wild boars can defend themselves against wolves if they are cornered.

According to studies carried out in Eastern Europe, brown bears hunt wild boar when no other food reserves are available or when they do not hibernate due to insufficient fat reserves. They then sneak up on wild boars that rest in their nests at night or attack them in their wallowing. In winter, however, they also chase sick and weakened animals long distances.

The lynx, fox, wildcat, and eagle owl have only a subordinate role as predators compared to the wolf, the Siberian tiger, and the brown bear. They mainly hunt newborn or weakened young animals. It has been reported that the fox occasionally follows females with their piglets in order to hunt down those possibly left in the way.

Reproduction

Young females can become sexually mature after 8 to 10 months, provided they have enough food. Males can only reproduce in the second year of life. So far, exceptions to this rule have only been observed in the United States, where wild boar populations are highly mixed with domestic pigs.

The mating season depends on the respective climatic conditions; In Central Europe it usually begins in November and ends in January or February, the peak is in December. The beginning of the mating season is determined by the streams. Mating can also take place outside of this season. Females who have miscarried or whose entire litter has died shortly after birth may be ready to conceive again.

If a male meets females at the mating season, he smells them in her genital region. If the female is ready for conception, she easily pushes her to the side of the stomach, against the flanks, or on the lower part of the neck, and surrounds her. When the female withdraws, the male follows her and tries to maintain contact with her body by placing her skull on the female’s back or by pressing it against her flanks.

This call can take a long time. If the female is not ready to mate yet, she will occasionally attack the male. The male then tries to calm the female through nasosinusal contact and breathing. If the female does not want to copulate, she may make screeching defensive sounds. If it is not possible otherwise, she removes her genital region by sitting or lying down.

To mate, the female extends her hind legs rigidly diagonally back and turns her tail to the side. The male rides on her, putting her head on her back. In this position, both animals usually remain immobile for five minutes before separating again. A female copulates six to seven times during the mating season.

The young are usually born in Central Europe between March and May. Newborns come into the world looking and furry. Their weight at birth ranges between 740 and 1100 grams. The suckling time of most wild pigs lasts from 2.5 to 3.5 months. If the female belongs to a herd, she separates from it and follows her own path, until her young are large enough to keep up with the herd. The bond between the mother and the young usually lasts a year and a half.

Protection and status

Wild boars are physically adults at the age of five to seven years; however, only a few specimens reach this age. In poorly hunted populations, life expectancy is between 3 and 6 years, while in the most hunted populations it is reduced to 2 or 3 years. The annual mortality rate is 50%. This is a low rate, especially for fresh produce.

Hunting is the leading cause of death in Europe, diseases play a secondary role. Physically mature wild boars make up only a small part of the wild boar population. Only a few animals are getting old. In captivity against her, the boars reach a substantially higher age. These wild pigs reach 21 years of life.

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