“ What is it like to be a “Sri Lankan Pumba” ???
Wildlife Facts of “Ahaspokuna” – Wild boar Families.
The wild boar is found in many regions of the globe. As “Pumba ” in Serengeti is busy helping “Simba” keep the peace in the savannah, in the highlands of the Ahaspokuna Bush Walk Camp, we have our own Sri Lankan version with their extended families, “rolling” supreme … in the mud actually.
While on a trekking tour from the site, you’re sure to pass their handy work from the previous night. You will definitely see the borrowings and holes throughout the soft moist soil of the misty mountains which these critters have dug through looking for food.
In an early morning nature walk with a Ahaspokuna Bush Walk Camp naturalist, you might be lucky enough to even spot the families rushing into the undergrowth with their babies to find a place to lay low during the day. They are experts when it comes to tracking wildlife. I meant the Ahaspokuna team, not the boars – take my word on that!
A Unique Sri Lankan Wildlife Specimen
The Sri Lankan wild boar is a subspecies that is found here and scientifically known as “Sus scrofa affinis”.
The typical colour of a wild boar is black and grey, and around Ahaspokuna the colour black is more abundant which is usually the case of many wet zone wildlife. This is an adaptation to more lush environments with a good undergrowth, that has little sunlight penetrating through, as opposed to a dry zone environment where it is usually well lit – due to the lesser density of trees..
The boar is a lot similar, but in a little less appealing manner, to a domesticated pig actually. It has short legs but a highly compact body structure. Its head is relatively larger and it can reach three and a half feet in height.
The wild boar averages between 40 to 90 kilograms. When considering the world population of boars, their counterparts in Sri Lanka are slightly smaller in physique.
Both the male and female wild boar possess tusks but the male’s tusks are predominantly visible unlike the female’s.
Distribution around the Country
As I mentioned before, the boars are found in most regions of the world and it “prefers” less-dense woodland for its habitat, thus the woodlands around Ahaspokuna Bush Walk Camp offers them the ideal habitat.
Scrublands are one of the most desired geographical environments of the wild boar. With the Mini Nature Reserve Concept created to conserve the natural landscape and the environment around the campsite, it has been a safe haven for these critters as well as a lot of other Sri Lankan wildlife.
An Intriguing Discovery at the Site
The pond at Ahaspokuna Bushwalk Camp plays an important role for resident wildlife of the area including the wild boar population. It is the main water source for them to use this mountainous area. During the night, families of boars visit the pond once the lights are out in the camp – for a quick drink and a dip to cool off…. Undoubtedly, this is their “Chill Spot” in the mountains…
Once there was an instance where we found a dead wild boar close to the bank of the pond but couldn’t find the exact cause of death.
Initially, it was felt that this was a leopard attack, since there are highland leopards roaming around the camp area, but after a closer look we concluded that maybe it had died from an internal illness since it didn’t show any physical injuries whatsoever – which would have been highly unlikely if a leopard had been involved.
The Family Life
Male wild boars are typically found as isolated individuals and they can be aggressive creatures if cornered. But in and around the campsite area, they never create any trouble since they know that we mean no harm to them. They will just “give you the eye” and wander off even if you came face to face with a big guy.
The females who are much more docile in nature, live in groups along with their offspring and these groups are known as “sounders’ ‘ usually comprising between 15 to 20 in number.
Are they an “Agricultural Pest”???
Recent research has shown that the wild boar population has spiked in the hill country areas and studies are now being carried out to determine the cause. According to the Wild Life Department stats, plantations such as coconut, yams and bananas have been severely affected by the increasing wild boar population around villages in the hill county.
And we definitely have begun to see a few new families at Ahaspokuna, as well over the past few years, enjoying the abundance of food as well as the protection we provide. You might hear the sounds of the male boars fighting for territories around the area, if you are lucky enough to spend the night in the camp site, which is definitely a “must try”.
Though the killing of wild boars within forest reserves is prohibited under the law, there are no restrictions on killing them entering plantations and destroying crops. However, the sale of wild boar meat is illegal and those found guilty of the offence could face fines up to Rs 30,000.
Significance in Sri Lankan Culture
The wild boar is depicted widely in popular Sri lankan culture and is featured in a few folklore of the island as well. One is the famous and well feared “Mahasona” or the “Greater Demon” stories riding on the back of a wild boar which has given this animal a rather sinister appeal among the villagers of the country.
The Role in the Environment
In terms of Biodiversity and Ecology, wild boars has many positive roles in the environment, and the following are particularly important: creation of various habitat conditions, providing long-term increase in biodiversity, spread of plant seeds and hypogeous fungi by zoochory; reducing the abundance of some pest species and keeping the serpent population in check, removal of carrion, and providing of important food source for larger carnivores.
However, these benefits are generally overlooked, and the wild boar is treated almost exclusively as a problematic/pest species. Therefore, we believe that in the future the ecological importance of wild boar has to be systematically and objectively reconsidered, and the influences of the species have to be identified but also more precisely and comprehensively studied.
This will enable the wild boar to be more objectively evaluated by the general public as well and will help in creating a safer haven for them, among other valued flora and fauna of Sri Lanka.
So, have you ever encountered a wild boar in the Wild? What was that like for you?
Share your experiences with us… it will be phenomenal to know!