Spanish boars move in next to the Beckhams

Madrid's fashionable suburbs invaded by hairy interlopers
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The Independent Online

The wild boar, favourite target of ancient hunting parties in primeval forests, is prowling Madrid's luxury northern suburbs, to the increasing annoyance of prosperous locals.

The boar has come down from its haunts in the mountains north-west of the Spanish capital to roam the leafy avenues and walled mansions of Madrid's high-end suburb, Las Rozas. David and Victoria Beckham and other Real Madrid footballers have their luxury homes nearby, just a short spin from the club's new out-of-town training ground.

The Beckhams can't have reckoned on snuffling wild boars weighing up to 70kg becoming near neighbours. But Sus scrofa has become a regular visitor to Las Rozas's private estates and swimming pools on the fringes of wooded parkland. They seek food and water in the extensive gardens, pools and green spaces - especially now in the mating season, when females on heat make themselves a comfortable "bed" from the lush vegetation.

The omnivorous creatures roam mostly at night, and wallow in mud and water. Despite their fearsome tusks and grumpy character, boars are not aggressive unless wounded or provoked. The species has no natural predators, and adapts swiftly to new habitats.

There are remedies. Wild boars' nostrils are as sensitive as those of Victoria Beckham, who notoriously complained that Spain "smelt of garlic". In Catalonia local people sprinkle their land with the pungent moth repellent, naphthalene, which immediately puts the creatures off.

And in one town where herds of wild boar trampled the maize fields, farmers installed tape machines that blared loud music all night. The terrified beasts, who have sensitive ears, trotted back to the hills.

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