Saturday, August 18, 2007

year of the pig

Most evenings we walk the dog together through the forest here. The Grunewald is a big, wild forest that reaches almost into the middle of Berlin, and survived developement as it was the only piece of nature the West Berliners could easily access in the fifty years of separation. Here´s Berlin with the Grunewald circled and some important landmarks for reference:

See? Really big and very central.

One of the things such a big and wild forest has is wildlife. We walk of an evening, seeing only the very occassional jogger (or in summer, large packs of them crossing the path in the distance). Sometimes we´ve spotted squirrels, rabbits, foxes and deer. This year, almost daily, we see wild pigs.

We´ve come across them in the past. Last year, especially when the days started getting shorter and they were coming out earlier, we´d see one in the distance and hightail it in the other direction. Sometimes they were in pairs, but usually alone. This year, for whatever reason, there appear to be far more around, roaming in larger packs, and getting bolder. It´s a daily event that we see one as close as 10 metres away or, at the very least, hear them move through the bush somewhere off the path.

Several weeks ago we had a nasty encounter with two wild sows, who barrelled out of the undergrowth about 15 metres ahead of us and took out Leon. I really didn´t think we´d get him back alive. They charged him, threw him into the air and trampled him. Both were to my waist in height and luckily not boars with tusks or they would have just skewered him. When he managed to get free he bolted back to us, causing the pigs to also chase towards us and us to run like mad in the other direction for about 50 metres until they were satisfied and retreated. It took Leon two days to recover and the bruising longer to disappear.

So we have become very circumspect walking in the forest. My ears are always straining for the rustle of leaves, my eyes scanning the underbrush for anything vaguely boar shaped.

Today I spotted one about 25 metres away. We were already passed it on the path when DrH realised that only 10 metres to the right another two were standing. They moved, setting off a few more who were on the left of the path and just as close and all of a sudden there was a huge pack of pigs running straight for us. We RAN. I have never run so hard. The path curved to the right and I saw a pig only 3 metres on the right coming out of the bush. It curved left, the pigs cutting straight through bush while we follwed the winding trail that kept bringing us directly in their path. The path straightened and there were pigs behind us, beside us.

I have never felt so sure I was about to be seriously, seriously injured. That a wild boar was about to trample me. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I know I screamed.

We got to a large path crossing and turned to the right. I looked over my shoulder to see three, six, ten pigs dash across the path behind us. In the safety of the trees on the other side they also turned right and kept moving in the direction we were.

All this time Leon hadn´t even noticed them, had thought we were playing. Now he decided to up the game a bit, snapping at DrH´s jeans, accidentally grabbing flesh and causing DrH to fall in front of me.

Another pig ran across the path. This time in front of us. And I couldn´t run anymore.

We slowed and I was hyperventilating. The pigs apparently decided to back off now and let us move forward, watching us from the shadows of the trees. We walked another 500 metres along a narrow, overhung track until we reached a wide pathway and other people. Three hours later I´m still shaking.


Susan said...

Jeepers, that sounds terrible!

Jan said...

Blimey, I was expecting to read something about a new VW bus kitchen design... Then I had to hold my breath while reading this post and finally I'm happy that you all survived!

Hope DrH's injury isn't too serious!

kilowatthour said...

oh my god that's terrifying! wow. thank jeebus you're all okay.

vailian said...

Sounds like you had a swine old time!
And could you be a tad more precise about the location of the Best Brunch Place? (I am occasionally in Berlin and am a pushover for Berlin cafe brunches, they are amazing!)

Bugsy said...

That doesn't sound like much fun. I came across some wild pigs in the Daintree rainforest up the top end of Australia and I wouldn't want to mess with them at all. Are they protected? Perhaps investigation into their numbers needs to be done?