There are many kinds of mammals living in the mountains that surround Cabrera, and although like most animals they are generally wary of getting close to humans, almost all the species turn up in gardens and wandering on the roads every now and then. There are foxes, rabbits, tortoises and of course the biggest are the wild boar.
We know they are present, but our local wild boar, or "jabalí", are rarely seen. Nevertheless, you don't have to venture far to find evidence of their presence, ie the plants uprooted in the search for food. Sometimes the earth has been churned up over an extensive area, and so thoroughly that it gives the appearance of having been roughly ploughed. Fine if you come across an area like
that while walking on the mountain, but a bit of a nuisance if it's in your garden. Even then though, it seems a small price to pay for the privilege of being visited by these impressive, albeit not very handsome, creatures.
The boars in our surrounding area are mainly nocturnal, using the deep overgrown ravines and darkness to give protective cover as they come down from the higher parts of the sierra. They then venture out onto more open areas and hillsides to root for food. It is difficult to estimate their numbers but there are probably more than we imagine. Antonio and Paco (the local workmen) once counted sixteen crossing the road up from Turre early one morning. They ranged in size from very small to very large and probably consisted of three families.
The wild boar is not necessarily a creature of the night but apparently has been so in this area for some considerable time. This is possibly due to human persecution and the lack of dense cover to protect it from danger. Although hunted to extinction in Great Britain over 300 years ago, the animal is quite common in many thickly forested areas of Europe. In Spain there has been a population increase in recent years due, it is thought, to the abandonment of remote villages and farms, and the consequent extension to the areas accessible to the boar.
What do we know about the animal itself? It can measure up to 90cm at the shoulder and weigh as much as 180kg. It has greyish black hair with coarse short bristles and two powerful tusks in the lower jaw. At about two years of age the male wild boar grows tusks on its upper and lower jaws. The top tusks are hollow and act as a grindstone to keep the lower tusks permanently sharpened. Females do not grow the upper tusks, and their lower tusks are smaller, but they are still pretty sharp.
As we've already noted, wild boar are very shy and wary of human contact. The sows can be aggressive to one another when establishing dominance within the group or when feeding, but the aggression usually only extends to pushing and maybe the odd bite. Mature males are most aggressive to each other during the autumn rut, a time when potentially fatal injuries are occasionally inflicted by the razor-sharp tusks.
Boar breed twice a year, producing litters of up to eight piglets. Living in family units with one male, the sows make hollow "nests" amongst the vegetation for sleeping. Their main food consists of roots and grain where available, but they will also eat small animals, insect larvae, worms and even birds eggs.
Boars are extremely powerful, fast-moving animals and they are also good swimmers. They are not normally aggressive and allowed the opportunity, they will use their acute sense of smell to detect humans long before they themselves are seen give humans a pretty wide berth. However, if they are cornered or feel their young are being threatened, they can become quite ferocious and will charge at great speed.
Our local wild representative of the pig family is certainly a wily and resourceful creature. If you haven't seen one yet in Cabrera, and can't wait for your opportunity to crop up naturally, try a visit to the Sierra Espuña natural park near Murcia. There, the boar have grown accustomed to humans and will often gather around the picnic areas looking for tit bits. Whether that is as good as spotting a truly wild wild boar in it's natural habitat on the Sierra Cabrera, is up to you to decide.