On a family holiday in the Wye valley, there was a good opportunity to try to catch a glimpse of one of the area’s most elusive yet controversial wild animals, the wild boar. There is little consensus over the true number of wild boar remaining in the area, some say there are as few as a couple of hundred while others believe there could be more than a thousand individuals in the Forest of Dean alone.
Despite spending days within what would be considered the Forest of Dean, the evidence of wild boar was conspicuously absent from many areas, although it did look like the boar moved around the more remote mountain bike trails. However, the true effect the boar had on the forest ecosystem only really became apparent on a wildlife walk with a local naturalist called Ed Drewitt. He pointed out where the boar had been turning over earth and the narrow trails they created into dense scrub and undergrowth.
Unfortunately during the wildlife walk with Ed, we were unsuccessful in spotting a wild boar, but we did see a large number of fallow deer and I gained some understanding of the effect the boar have on the forest. Something I found remarkable was how the boar opened up what would otherwise be a dense carpet of bracken, allowing a wider range of plants to develop. I saw a similar range of plants as I had at the Knepp Estate in Sussex where the pigs there presumably have a similar effect on the ground flora.
Throughout my week in the Wye valley, I was continuously impressed by the abundance of wildlife. Early in the week, we spotted Peregrine falcons circling cliffs high above the rather shallow River Wye, we walked along wildflower meadows adjacent to the river later and there appeared to be greater densities of songbirds than I was used to hearing back home. For these reasons I would definitely recommend the area to anyone wanting to visit an area for wildlife in Wales.