The excitement is building as, in just a few days I will be getting stuck in up to my knees in soil, discovering lots about wild boar behaviour. The hotel is booked, forms have been signed and the equipment is ready for collection. All that is left to do is to dig out the walking boots and I will be ready for an action packed two weeks of research at the Wildwood Trust.
‘If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise’
This may have been the case before the 13th century when wild boar roamed freely around our woods but they are very shy so if you were to go boar-spotting ‘you had better go in disguise’. Human hunting and deforestation led to the extinction of these creatures in Britain apart from a few intrepid explorers that have escaped from farms. Wild boar are closely related to our good old friend the pig but with a few differences. Boar have dark grey skin with brown bristles and tusks.
The UK government has to encourage the reintroduction of native species, including wild boar (due to the Convention of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats). But what effects do these animals have on the natural environment? Will they cause damage to our woodlands? My research into soil and vegetation characteristics across various enclosures aims to reveal the answers to these questions.
My adventure into the enclosure
Investigating the effects of wild boar has caused a tiff among academics and wild boar groups such as the British Wild Boar Organisation. Even within one study positive and negative effects have been found. I will investigate vegetation and soil characteristics, such as plant type and soil chemistry, around the wildlife park to try to settle this argument. I will post updates on the latest news as the mist clears and all is revealed. Fingers crossed for good weather and no boar related dramas!