After centuries of absence, wild boar are back in Britain. What does this mean for us – and them?
Big, messy and mysterious – crossing paths with a wild boar can conjure fear and joy in equal measure. Driven to extinction seven hundred years ago, a combination of the species’ own tenacity and illegal releases from the 1980s has seen several populations of this beast of myth begin to roam English and Scottish woods once more.
With growing worry over the impacts on both people and the countryside, the boar’s right to exist in Britain has been heavily debated. Their habitat-regenerating actions benefit a host of other wildlife, yet unlike beavers, these ecosystem engineers remain unloved by many. Why is there no clamour to reintroduce them across the land? And, with the few boar in England threatened by poaching and culling, why are we not doing more to prevent their re-extinction?
In Groundbreakers, Chantal Lyons moves to the boar’s stronghold of the Forest of Dean to get up close and personal with this complex, intelligent and quirky species, and she meets with people across Britain and beyond who celebrate their presence – or want them gone. From Toulouse and Barcelona where they are growing in number and boldness, to the woods of Kent and Sussex where they are fading away again, to Inverness-shire where rewilders welcome them, join Chantal on a journey of discovery as she reveals what it might take for us to coexist with wild boar.