Pigs in the city: conflict and coexistence between wild boar and humans in urban landscapes
In February 2018 in Hong Kong, a large male boar stood up on his back legs, rested his front ones on the rim of a dumpster and fed from a black rubbish bag as some piglets stood by. An ordinary scene, perhaps, but having been videoed and shared to a local news site, he acquired the nickname “Pigzilla”. Then that one boar become a viral internet sensation. The video dispersed across the world, with watches and shares blooming on social media and news sites from London to Boston, faster than the puns in the headlines and adjectives to describe his size could be exhausted. The initial shock was followed by concerned discussions about why a large male would be so close to younger animals, about potential food shortages or lack of space for boar. What had brought the pig to the city?
“Pigzilla” eats from a bin, February 2018, Daily Mirror
Wild boar have been photographed near the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and reported to be radioactive and occupy towns abandoned following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. In urban landscapes from the seemingly thriving to the seemingly post-apocalyptic, wild boar are there. It poses the question, in an increasingly urban world, is there space for a human-wild boar interaction? Or will the wild boar become just an ancestor of its domesticated variant?
This project aims to investigate the spatio-temporal pattern incidents of human-wild boar interaction using reports in the media, interviews and other methodologies and techniques from anthropology and ecology to analyse human and wild boar space use, and human perspectives on their urban coinhabitants in Hong Kong. Rather than implementing the arbitrary division between humans and other animals, this study aims to analyse them both as part of andynamic and complex urban environment. A “One Health” approach is common in medical studies, and this study aims to take this further to a “One Integrated Urban Ecology”.
I am currently seeking Post-doctoral researchers and Graduate students to work on this exciting new project!