The Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) is the wild ancestor of the domestic pig. It lives in woodlands across much of Central Europe, the Mediterranean Region (including North Africa’s Atlas Mountains), and much of Asia as far south as Indonesia. It is in the same Suidae biological family as the Warthog and Bushpig of Africa, the Pygmy Hog of northern India, Babirusa of Indonesia and others. It is more distantly related to the peccary or javelina found in the southwestern area of North America and throughout Central and South America.
Wild boars can reach up to 440 lb (200 kg), occasionally even 660 lb (300 kg) for adult males, and can be up to 6 feet (1.8 m) long. If surprised or cornered they may become aggressive and can cause injury with their tusks. However, this is quite rare and usually only occurs if a sow feels the need to defend her piglets.
The wild boar became extinct in Great Britain in the 17th century, but wild breeding populations have recently returned in some areas, particularly the Weald, following escapes from boar farms.
Wild boars live in groups called sounders. Sounders typically contain around 20 animals, but groups of over 50 have been seen. In a typical sounder there are two or three sows and their offspring; adult males are not part of the sounder outside of the autumnal breeding season and are usually found alone. Birth, called farrowing, usually occurs in the spring; a litter will typically contain five piglets, but up to 13 have been known.
The animals are usually nocturnal, foraging from dusk until dawn but with resting periods during both night and day. This is because hunters are most active during the day. They eat almost anything they come across, including nuts, berries, carrion, roots, tubers, refuse, insects, small reptiles–even young deer and lambs.
Wild boars are hunted both for their meat, considered a delicacy, and to mitigate the damage they cause to crops and forests. Historically, boar hunting was traditionally done by groups of spearmen using a specialized boar spear. The boar spear was fitted with a cross guard to stop the enraged animal driving its pierced body further down the shaft in order to attack its killer before dying. Specialized boar swords were also used in boar hunting, and also large hunting dogs, which would usually be equipped with heavy leather amour. See also medieval hunting. Dogs, sometimes now wearing Kevlar vests, are also used by modern boar hunters to track and subdue their quarry, which is then dispatched using a knife, rifle or compound bow. Wild boar is also often hunted without the aid of dogs, using similar equipment.
In Persia hunters (usually aristocrats) devised a rather different method. They used elephants brought from India to chase the boars and encircle them in marshland. The hunter would then use a composite bow to shoot the boars from a boat. Elephants carried the bodies to the hunting camp. The rock reliefs of these scenes have remained largely intact in Taq-e Bostan.