There are more than 1,000 wild boar now living wild in north Wealden, an expert says.
It’s believed the first boars might have escaped from private land after the Great Storm in 1987 and have lived feral ever since – although wild boars were indigenous to the British Isles throughout history.
Peter Smith, from the Kent-based Wildwood Trust, said: “Wild boar numbers are increasing at present, but they fluctuate as when numbers are high, the hunters move in and populations are then drastically reduced.” He said people pay in the region of £1,000 for a day’s shooting boar.
Peter explained: “They are a true British animal and are perfectly adapted to their habitat. They have an essential role in ecology in terms of their relationship to the oak tree, Kipling’s ‘Sussex Weeds’. There is a true symbiosis.
“Without the boar there would be no oaks – if they disappeared from our forests today in a few hundred years the trees would start to die out. It’s like the elephant and the acacia tree – oaks produce thousands of acorns which the boars disperse and help the tree out-compete its rivals in the forest.”
He said he often has reports of boar piglet sightings. “Wild boar are notoriously shy but the piglets have no fear of man so you often see them when you are out in the woods.”
Peter is chair of the Trust based at Kent’s Woodland Discovery Park, a visitor attraction and charity backed by the UK’s leading wildlife conservationists, which aims to save native and once native wildlife from extinction.
The Trust wants to bring back Britain’s true ‘wildwood’, and restore the nation’s land to its natural state. This involves releasing large, wild herbivores and developing conservation grazing systems to restore natural ecological processes to help Britain teem with wildlife once again.
The park is set in 38 acres of ancient woodland where people can experience what it’s like to be hunted by a real, live pack of wolves, watch a charging wild boar or track down a beaver in his lodge. The Trust runs a programme of conservation projects – they are the UK’s leading experts in rescuing and re-establishing colonies of Britain’s most threatened mammal, the water vole.
They have also been at the forefront of efforts to re-establish the European beaver back in Britain where they have been proven to help manage waterways to bring back a huge range of plants.
Meanwhile wild boar are already being hunted as game in East Sussex, particuarly woodland towards Darwell and Brightling in the east.