The boar of discord

One of the objectives of Raphaël Mathevet and Simon Chamaillé, researchers at the Centre d'écologie fonctionnelle et évolutive, is to gain a better understanding of wild boar so as to improve cohabitation with them. They have coordinated a project on integrated wild boar management.

photos © Creaturart, Francois Roux, Hedi-Kun -

With 17 million hectares of woodland, the French forest is back to where it was before medieval clearings. A vital space in full expansion, surveyed by over 1.5 million wild boar, who are pushing back the frontiers. A neighborhood that can sometimes be a source of tension: "the increase in wild boar densities is associated with an upsurge in agricultural damage, growing road collisions and often conflicts between hunters, farmers, protected area managers and other users of rural and peri-urban areas", explains Raphaël Mathevet, researcher at the Centre d'écologie fonctionnelle et évolutive.1.

How can all these players work together to find the right place for wild boar? To facilitate this cohabitation, Simon Chamaillé and Raphaël Mathevet have coordinated a project dedicated to the integrated management of this animal. " A better understanding of the biology, habits and customs of the animals, as well as the functional, economic, social and ecological interdependencies of the areas concerned, is essential to creating a collaborative dynamic," explains Raphaël Mathevet.

Researchers set out with their suitcases full of GPS collars and camera traps in the Gardon gorges and the Écrins national park to study wild boar movements. Their aim: to obtain factual data on how wild boar use space, and to check whether protected areas where hunting is prohibited provide refuge. But they also want to meet local residents to share this data with them and help them get to know the wild boar better.

"The communication challenge is colossal, and it's also a real scientific and social mediation project," confide the researchers, who have developed a serious game for the occasion, offering hunters the chance to be a wild boar population, for example. " This allows them to adopt the animal's point of view and reflect on the effects of their practices," emphasizes Raphaël Mathevet. These are methods that the scientists are now transposing to the urban environment as part of a project with the cities of Montpellier and Nîmes. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the movements of wild boar in cities, as well as the relationship between city dwellers and these animals, with whom we increasingly share urban wastelands, parks and gardens.

Watch Raphaël Mathevet's lecture at the Agora des savoirs "Wild boar, geographies of a political animal".

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  1. Cefe (CNRS, UM, IRD, EPHE)