The sun is not out, yet. It’s chilly January morning in the hills. The surroundings are enveloped in fog. There is mist rising from the Ram Ganga River. We are driving in the dreamland of Corbett.
The jeep is an open Zypsy. It’s a narrow dust track. We suddenly notice this guy and stop. He is busy at the edge of the track. We are hardly two-three metres, yet the wild boar does not run away. It is working hard to dig out a juicy-root snack and would not like to forgo because two old wildlifers are hanging around – hell with them!
The light is very poor – I take few shots at 1000 ASA. The ground has been dug almost a foot- deep but the root is not still within hand, I mean mouth – and the guy is digging furiously, making lot of noise as well. We are not able to take good shots as the boar is neck deep into the pit.
We move the vehicle a bit to get a better angle. We notice that the handsome guy is a tusker, though with small tusksm – protruding white shining sickle shaped stuff. The coat is shiny grey-black.
Movement of the vehicle, and people too close, makes the animal feel ‘Do not be careless.’ It reacts by leaping out of the pit and moving two metres into the bushes, but nowhere prepared to go away and give up its meal. Within few minutes, it is back and restarts the digging, now more furiously.
I recollect, during early 1980s in Corbett, foresters used to tell us stories of hotheadedness of wild boar. It was reported to be capable to dashing straight into an adversary, like a bullet and with similar speed. It was said, that strong-headed wild boar, if cornered, can even charge at a leopard or tiger. So, we thought “let it be.”
It seems, it is ‘wild boar’ morning for us. Now, we run into three boars sitting still and tight, very close to each other, to share each other’s body warmth, on the chilly morning. They are right there in middle of another narrow dust track. Simply lazing around, in contrast to the busy young boar, we earlier met. In fact, two bank mynas were busy servicing them – by removing ticks and other pests.
These guys do not want to give way – too lazy to get up and move off the track. Must be cursing us for disturbing them in their relaxed movement.
Thinking of this animal, the fact is that it (Sus scrofa cristatus) cannot be described as beautiful though some time it may look good. It, of course, does not need any description. Though it may be of interest to know, wild boar is the ancestor of the domestic pig, it breeds fast, and is widely distributed.
The conflict between humans and wild boars are not uncommon…agricultural crop depredation by wild boars is another problem in many parts of India. The situation can be so bad, for example, Kerala has given conditional permission to farmers to kill wild boars that reportedly destroy crops in several parts of Kerala.
One would not believe that these carefree and merrily loitering lots can even cause an airplane accident. It is only two months ago, ‘around 50 passengers aboard a SpiceJet flight had a close shave … after a herd of wild boars marched onto the runway after the plane had landed at Jabalpur, swinging the aircraft off the runway.’
On the positive side, in most simplistic terms, wild boar is known as farmer of the forest – ploughing it.
Surprisingly, it finds a high place in Indian mythology. ‘A story present in the Brahmanas has Indra slaying an avaricious boar, who has stolen the treasure of the asuras, then giving its carcass to Vishnu, who offered it as a sacrifice to the gods. In the story’s retelling in the Charaka samhita, the boar is described as a form of Prajapati, and is credited with having raised the earth from the primeval waters. In the Ramanana and the Puranas, the same boar is portrayed as an avatar of Vishnu.