Wednesday, January 3, 2007
WALLABIES & BOAR!
Since the great storm of 1987, there have been several numbers of boar, and less so wallaby across Kent. Boar are thriving on the marshes of areas such as Romney, as well as Paddock Wood, and wallaby sightings are on the increase, particularly across the North Downs and Ashford. Strange things in them there woods...On Sunday 2nd September, the Daily Mirror reported, 'It's Enough To Make A Policeman Hopping Mad' - claiming, "...a big police hunt is on for two wallabies on the run. The wallabies, smaller versions of the kangaroo, escaped from Heathfield Safari Park, Sussex. Now one of them has been spotted leaping over hedges in Kent. Mr Julian Moore, 18, who works at the safari park owned by his father, Dr. Gerald Moore, explained that they are not really dangerous but have a tendency to kick. He said: " We have a devil of a job keeping them from vaulting the enclosures. We keep on building higher fences - but once a wallaby, even a small one, decides he is going, it's pretty hard to change his mind. The two missing animals are about 3ft 6 in' high and greyish-brown."
The Britons, Saxons and Romans hunted boar so escape was a rare thing. Man even imported the boar because he frothed at the thrill of the hunt. In Kent, wild boar was very much part of the menu up until the modern day, but many have escaped captivity thanks to natural occurrences such as storms. Such animals had escaped from areas such Rolvenden, and in Thurnham there were signs a few years ago on many a woodland tree stating, "Beware : Boar!". However, confrontations between man and beast have been few and far between, even crop damage has been minimal and often exaggerated in the press.
A 50lb peccary was too much of a match for one man and his three dogs during the late '90s, but the animal was lured back to the park it escaped from. By 1999 the boar in the wilds of Kent was perceived as a severe threat. Admittedly, the boar is not the most pleasant of creatures. However, a summit took place at Maidstone's Tudor Park Hotel, organised at the time by accountant Paul Edgson Wright who'd had a keen interest in agricultural matters. Also at the time, a government study was underway and news crews flocked to areas such as Beckley to film the animals. Conservationist Angus Irvine at the time commented, "They don't exist in law and the government has to decide whether they do ecist, maybe then we can make decisions from that point."
Rational thinking seemed to go out of the window during the time and in an article from 2000 I commented that, "...whilst the opposition are condemning the boar, they ought to look at themselves and maybe put their spears away instead of acting like primitive hunters looking to destroy anything that appears as a threat."
Radical opinions were causing much stress in the rural communities. A mock poster plastered around read:
'A mother and daughter were killed whilse walking through an English woodland along a public footpath. Their dog, it is beleived, disturbed the boar which charged out of the undergrowth killing the young girl instantly, and so severely wounding the mother by ripping with its tusks, that she susequently died.
WHAT ARE THE AUTHORITIES DOING ABOUT THIS NEW MENACE ? NOT MUCH, IT APPEARS!'
Of course, such advertising campaigns were completely unjustifiable. Conservative MP for Ashford, Damian Green, at the time commented, "If the wild boar population is growing very fast and is likely to start intruding on human life then we need to find amethod of control."
A farmer at the summit, an Ian Douglas was allegedly seconds away from being attacked by a boar when he shot it in time. He said in an interview with local news, "After looking at the boar on the ground after I'd shot it I thought it was scary, but I do have a sneaking regard for them because there are people out there shooting away just so they can say they have bagged a wild boar, all the while the poor young ones are dying and the big old ones are still there getting on with it. They are the dangerous ones and they are the ones producing more and more."
It must be said that whilst no casual rambler wants to stumble upon a big boar and its young, there must come a time when Kent's folk come to terms with nature. Boar, large cats and other foreign imports are now well establishing themselves in the county and there is no major worry. The only issue seems to have been dug up more by the campaigners opposing such creatures rather than the tusks of the animals themselves.