Fresh from my close encounter with Boar, a week later I went back in search of them. This time, I was fortunate enough not just to meet two females, but also their piglets, or “humbugs”. And these animals were sufficiently trusting to allow me, after a time, to sit quietly with them.
There are people who say that we should not disturb wildlife and so should never interact with them. To a large extent, I agree with that. But where human and animal treat each other with respect, where the animal is not made dependent on the human for contact, food or shelter, and where the encounter is always upon the wild animal’s terms – i.e. it can come and go, or send you away as it chooses, then I think it’s OK. And so I was happy to sit quietly and respectfully and watch as a female boar suckled her young not fifteen feet from me, all the while fully aware that I was there. (A boar’s sense of smell is so acute that they would have known I was there if I was a hundred yards away, never mind five). I’ve had such encounters with wild animals many times now, with many different species. It is always a matter of respect and trust. Respect the animal, and all of its needs (including the need not to become so relaxed around people that it falls prey to the unscrupulous) and it may, just may, trust you back.
This sow was suckling two very different sizes of humbug, which makes me suspect that she has adopted the offspring of another female. The humbugs weren’t bothered by the arrangement. One good feed later and all were fast asleep in the sunshine. Had the ground not been so uncomfortable, I would have been as well.
After several hours, I left the boar, largely because I had taken every photograph I could ever imagine. When I got home, I discovered that I’d clocked up some 2,500 images. Camera shutter units do wear out, and I’d probably taken a year off the life of my camera. But it was more than worth it to spend time with these animals. Ugly or beautiful, dangerous or cute – that’s for you to decide, but I know where my vote lies.