A wild boar was found roaming the center of Thessaloniki, Greece in the early morning hours of Friday, spotted and filmed by a few passers-by at 2:45 AM in the central square of the city, Aristotelous Square.
The boar likely came down to the center of the city from the nearby forest Seikh Sou, and was then found wandering around the city. Although the nearby forest is renowned for its natural landscapes and wildlife, the incongruous sight of a wild boar with commercial buildings in the background is not an easy one to forget.
Wild boar are common across Greece but are generally found in forests, not central squares of major cities. According to Christos Vlachos, who is a professor of the School of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Environment at Aristotle University, the largest educational institution in the city, wild boar are a common threat across Europe.
Thankfully, Vlachos assured city dwellers that they were not in peril.
“There is no significant problem for the citizen unless panic is caused, or if (the boar) feels threatened while breastfeeding. Under no circumstances should there be complacency or efforts to feed boar, even if they seem calm.
“Also, those who own a dog must be careful,” he warned, “as wild boars can feel threatened (by dogs) and attack. And of course, an important issue is the provocation of serious traffic accidents, either in the regional or in the urban setting.”
Wild boar in Greece
Greek farmers have been calling for measures to contain an explosion of the wild boar population, which is blamed for the destruction of crops.
The problem is acute in some parts of Greece, they claim, as boar which had escaped from livestock farms have now formed packs with free-range boar and existing wild boar. These “hybrid boar” are extremely prevalent across Europe now and create a lot of issues in terms of managing their population, as they are extremely fertile.
Wild boar have been spotted in urban areas of Greece before, such as in 2019, when a pack of wild boar were observed roaming the streets of Rafina, Attica. Similar incidents have occurred in other urban areas such as Marathon.
Wild boar are categorised as an invasive species and are one of widest-ranging mammals in the world, due to their great adaptability to new climates and their high reproduction rate. Sixteen different 16 subspecies of the wild boar have been recognized just since 1990.
In Greece, wild boar are hugely prevalent and are just part of the ancient history of the nation. Stories about wild boar are extremely frequent in Greek mythology, with almost all heroes of mythology fighting or killing a wild boar at some point. One of the twelve labours of Heracles involved the capture of the Erymanthian Boar.
While wild boar attacks on humans are very rare and almost exclusively occur in rural areas from the months of November to January, they can be serious. Wild boar attacks usually lead to severe thigh injuries, as the boar charges and attacks the victim using its tusks.
The wild boar in Thessaloniki, Greece is very unlikely to attack and will likely soon just serve as a funny anecdote for those who witnessed its urban escapades.
A video of the incident is shown below: