By Bernhard Warner, Aug 9, 2019
The Guardian (UK) Collserola Natural Park looms over Barcelona, rising to about 500 metres at the Tibidabo peak.
This forested ridge effectively walls off the city’s growth. Collserola is rich with wildlife, home to more than 190 animal species.
Overlooking a city of more than 1.5 million residents, which welcomes tens of millions of tourists each year, it has become a battlefront between humans and nature.
On many a hot Catalan night, wild boar from Collserola, alone or in gangs, descend on the city and mingle with the human population carousing after hours.
The encounters between Barcelonan and beast are numerous, peaking in 2016 when police logged 1,187 phone calls about nuisance boars on the loose – wild hogs rooting up turf, munching trash, attacking dogs, plundering cat-feeders, holding up traffic and running into cars.
For the past decade, Barcelona has been desperately searching for a way to keep the boar from colonising the leafy neighbourhoods – some home to footballers, bankers and celebrities – that back up against Collserola.
The low point came in 2013 when a policeman shot at a boar with his service revolver, but hit and maimed his partner instead.
Listed on the World Conservation Union’s most invasive species list, the wild boar does well in just about any environment, from semi-arid plains to alpine forests and marshy grasslands.
But more and more, they are drawn to city life.
In Barcelona and Berlin, Houston and Hong Kong, groups of wild boar have been seen roaming around town at all hours.
In Rome, where I live, boars rooting through uncollected piles of trash have come to symbolise the decline of the city.
The arrival of wild boar in town squares and city parks is forcing us to confront a new reality: we are bumping up against the limits of urbanisation. This is a crisis we have largely inflicted on ourselves.