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Wild Boars - from Harper's

 

The wild boar is one of the most dangerous of beasts. Although it belongs to the same great family as the lazy, good-natured pig that lies in utter contentment in the farmer's pen, it is an altogether different creature, and few animals are so difficult to hunt.

In appearance it has the same general characteristics as domestic swine, with the difference that it is larger, covered with coarser bristles, has fiery, glowing eyes, and is armed with two terrible tusks, sometimes ten inches long, with which it can inflict dangerous wounds.

Formerly wild boars roamed in great numbers through the forests of Great Britain, but for many years they have been extinct in that country. They are still found in some parts of France and Spain, and are very numerous in Germany and the wild jungles of India. They are also found in Poland, Southern Russia, and Africa. Du Chaillu, the African traveller, mentions encountering a hideous red-haired wild hog in the wondrous equatorial forests of the "dark continent." Notwithstanding its size it was tremendously savage, and very agile, jumping and running like a cat.

Wild hogs are gregarious, and are found in herds. They are fond of living near water, in which they like to roll and wallow; indeed, a bath appears almost indispensable to them, as they will sometimes travel miles to obtain it. Their food consists of roots, nuts, and all kinds of fruits and grains. In Egypt and India they do much injury to the vast tracts of sugar-cane, the thick growth affording them excellent hiding-places and shelter against attack.

It is said that wild hogs will not attack a man unless hunted or enraged; but as they are not only daring, but also very cautious and watchful, they suspect the least approach to be offensive, and proceed to defend themselves.

The sow guards her little ones with great care, and becomes wild with fury if they are touched. She will run with great speed if she hears them call, and few hunters have succeeded in capturing young specimens without first killing the parent. A man once riding through a forest in Germany came upon two little wild pigs which had strayed into the pathway. Delighted with his prize, he rolled the piggies in his horse-blanket, sprang to his saddle, and hastened on his road. But the smothered squealing of her babies reached the ears of the mother, and the man soon heard a loud grunting. On turning round he saw a furious sow, with gleaming eyes, coming after him at full speed. Being unarmed, he was compelled to fling the little pigs on the ground, and ride for his life.

The wolf, the lynx, and even the sly fox are terrible enemies of wild hogs, for with patience and cunning watchfulness they often succeed in making off with very young pigs, which form a most savory repast.

A WILD BOAR AT BAY. A WILD BOAR AT BAY.

Wild-boar hunting has been held for ages as a royal sport, and in former times no banquet was considered perfect unless the table was graced by a boar's head. Kings and emperors rode to the hunt in those days with numerous followers and huntsmen, all armed with the cross-bow and boar-spear, in search of this royal game. At present wild-boar hunting is carried on to some extent in Germany; but in India it is a favorite sport, as the boar of that country is the largest and fiercest of any in the world, not fearing even the tiger, its savage companion of the jungles. Stories are told of dead boars and tigers being found together, each bearing the marks of a terrible and evenly balanced fight.

In India boars are hunted on horseback, the chief weapon used being a spear with a stout two-edged blade. A horse must be thoroughly trained to this sport, and must possess great fleetness of foot, as the boar is a very rapid runner. The time chosen for the hunt is at daybreak, as the boar has probably been eating sugar-cane or other food all night, and is sleepy and heavy in the morning, and less capable of a long run. Savage and powerful dogs are used in the chase, which often prove serviceable in bringing the beast to bay. For dogs the boar has a most violent hatred, and will rush at them blindly often, with its superior strength and formidable tusks overpowering them, unless the hunter be near to use a spear or send a bullet through its heart.

In this country the hog was unknown originally in a natural condition, having been introduced by settlers from the Old World; and the wild boar in our Western and Southern States, and in Canada, is merely the domestic animal relapsed into a primitive state of wild ferocity.