Postcard from... Galicia


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The Independent Online


Benigno Garcia, a farmer in the remote north-western Spanish village of Xallas, has spent the past nine days sleeping in the middle of one of his maize  fields – and not out of choice.  He and other farmers from the region of Galicia had already seen off a series of deadly forest fires and heatwaves this summer. But now they have had tons of kilos of their maize harvest consumed by a plague of wild boars, and the hungry porcos bravos, as they are known locally, are undoubtedly getting braver – and hungrier.

“They don’t just jump over stone walls a metre high, they are also no longer put off from bangers, metal fences, electric fences, torches or human  hair,” glumly reported one  local newspaper as it gave a breakdown of the objects  and obstacles previously  used by Galician farmers to scare off the marauding boars. But none of them now seems to be working.

There have been calls for a full-scale hunt, but it looks unlikely to happen before next weekend and there are fears all the maize crop, vital to these smallholders for their livestock feed, may be completely destroyed. Benigno Garcia reports he has already lost “a thousand kilos in a month”.

Other farmers, who already had to plant their maize crops twice because the boars scuffed up the seeds, have now begun operating all-night vigilante  patrols, some armed with searchlights. “But it does little good,” one embattled smallholder said, “the porcos bravos are no longer scared.”