Far From Pig-ture Perfect: A Snapshot of Hong Kong’s Boar-human Relations


Crazy Hong Kong Wild Boar Stories

When locals in Hong Kong think of wild boars, they usually conjure up images of monster pigs running amuck where they shouldn’t be.

When chatting to friends and acquaintances, they can usually quote the precise time and date when a wild boar bit a Hong Kong policeman, or the time a wild boar infiltrated Hong Kong’s MTR. They regale me with tales of wild boars going for a casual dip in a local swimming pool, or when wild boars decided to hijack Hong Kong airport.

It’s sad and concerning that wild boars are only prevalent in the public eye when they’re considered a ‘nuisance’. My encounters with these magnificent creatures, though, paint a vastly different picture.

If anything, Hong Kong’s wild boars remind me that our home of shiny glass skyscrapers, choked-up concrete roads and vast ocean of 711s was once a truly wild place.

Anything But Boaring: Get to Know Hong Kong’s Wild Boars with 5 Hog-wild Facts

You shouldn’t get close to them physically, but that doesn’t mean wild boars can’t have a special place in your heart. Here are five awesome facts that may just increase your appreciation for our epic jungle snoutlaws.

They’re Resilient Urban Survivors

Hong Kong's wild boars have shown remarkable adaptability to urban environments. They navigate through forests, rural areas, and even residential neighborhoods, demonstrating their ability to thrive alongside the city’s bustling cityscape – remember, it’s us encroaching into their homes, not the other way around!

Impressive Size and Strength:

Wild boars in Hong Kong can grow to impressive sizes. Adult males, known as boars, can weigh up to 200 kilograms (440 pounds) or more, while females, called sows, are slightly smaller. Their muscular build and sharp tusks make them formidable creatures.

Social and Family-oriented:

Wild boars are highly social animals that live in groups known as sounders. A typical sounder consists of adult females, their young, and sub-adult males. They communicate through vocalizations, body language, and scent markings, fostering a strong sense of family and community.

Omnivorous Appetites:

These adaptable creatures have diverse diets. While their natural food sources include roots, tubers, fruits, and insects, they have also learned to scavenge for human food waste in urban areas. Their ability to forage on a wide range of food items contributes to their survival in various habitats.

Environmental Engineers:

Wild boars play an important role in shaping the environment. As they root and dig for food, they help aerate the soil and disperse seeds through their feces, aiding in forest regeneration. Their foraging habits also help control insect populations, contributing to a balanced ecosystem.

Are Hong Kong’s Wild Boars Dangerous? What to Do If You See a Wild Boar

As a general rule of thumb, there’s a definite correlation between an individual’s level of imbecility and their propensity to be injured by a wild boar in Hong Kong. Try to avoid these 5 things and you should be totally fine except in the most extreme of circumstances:

1. Do Not Chase Wild Boars for Instagram Photos

If celebrities occasionally lash out at the paparazzi, you could be on the receiving end of a wild boar doing the same if you point a phone or camera in its face. Give it space and you’ll be ace.

2. Do Not Feed Wild Boars

I get it, some wild boars look cute and you may feel like a Disney princess when feeding them. But this is real life and your cute animal sidekick may decide to nip you or charge at you if you don’t feed it enough. It also sets a precedent where wild boars don’t fear humans and expect food, making the next person they encounter far more likely to be in danger.

3. Baby Wild Boars are Dangerous!

Well, not the babies themselves. But where there’s an adorable, tiny baby boar, there’s likely a big mama somewhere looking out for her piglet. You don’t want to come between a sow (female boar) and her baby.

4. Keep Distance and Keep Calm

If you do come across boars in the wild, the last thing you want to do is approach them. You’re in their home and pretty much anyone would be freaked out if they came across a home invader! Back away or take a different path if possible, don’t make any sudden movements and don’t block the boar’s exit and escape points.

5. Keep Your Pets Under Control

If your pet dog, parrot, cat, frog, whatever, has a penchant for mischief or making loads of noise, you’ll want to make sure they’re not perceived as a threat by a wild boar. Unless you’ve got a grey wolf or South China Tiger on a leash (a wild boar’s natural predators), you and your pet are likely going to have a bad time.

Personal Encounters with Wild Boars

For the most part, if you see a boar in the wild, it’s going to do its own thing and you should just let it mosey on by. Take the time to appreciate that we have such incredible, wild animals in a world where such a privilege is increasingly rare.

With this in mind, here are a few of the wild boar encounters I've had over the years where I've managed to take a quick snapshot from a safe distance away.

Siu Ma Shan – Hong Kong Island

I often encounter wild boars when hiking from Jardine’s Lookout to Siu Ma Shan and then down into Quarry Bay. The boars on this trail are usually smaller specimens (from my personal experience) for the most part and I’ve never felt threatened by them in the slightest.

This is one of the few places where I’ve seen a full sounder (family group) of boars all together (2020).

Quarry Bay Wartime Kilns – Hong Kong Island

The Quarry Bay Wartime Kilns was once a place that distributed food to refugees that poured into Hong Kong after the fall of Canton to the Japanese in 1938. Today, the kilns remain unused, but wild boars still come to this site in search of scraps and morsels left behind by humans. In a weird way, the wild boars preserve the original purpose of this historic location.

The only boar encounter I’ve had here (2023) was with a juvenile wild boar that emerged like a unicorn out of a mysterious, dark tunnel. I snapped a few quick shots of it and went about my day as it foraged for food, completely uncaring about my presence.

Kowloon Reservoir - Kowloon/New Territories

The closest and most intense encounter I've ever had with wild boars in Hong Kong was in Kowloon Reservoir (2023). Boars are known to frequent this area because of the abundance of water and food left behind from nearby barbecue areas. For this reason, they can get BIG here. Much bigger than the ones I've seen in other areas of Hong Kong.

I happened to take an incorrect turn while hiking around the reservoir and ended up at one of the barbecue sites on a quiet weekday.

All of a sudden, the tranquility was interrupted by a piercing squeal-roar. I looked up to see a wild boar crashing through the foliage on my right before cutting across the path I was on and vanishing into the foliage on the left.

A few steps ahead was another wild boar - a huge specimen that easily weighed over 100kg. Though this one seemed docile and content to ignore me, I took a detour away from the boar to give it time to move on.

When I returned, it was still by the stairs I needed to climb, so I slowly and calmly walked past the boar, which was about 5 meters or so away from me at one point.

Fortunately, the boar had plenty of escape options and was busy foraging for food.

I snuck past and breathed a sigh of relief before continuing on my hike.

Upper Shing Mun Reservoir

It was at the tail-end of a hike up Smuggler's Ridge and to some World War II tunnels that I was extremely fortunate to come across the biggest sounder of wild boars I've ever seen in Hong Kong (2023).

This group had a few medium-sized females who were leading a large collection of babies! A troupe of macaques watched on bemusedly as the wild boars created a bit of a ruckus before moving on back into the underbrush.

A short while later, I saw a couple of small boars wandering individually. I believe that these were almost certainly also part of the same sounder we had seen earlier.

Truly a magnificent experience - one that I'll never forget!

Why Are Wild Boars Culled?

Given that there are between 2,000 and 3,000 wild boars currently in Hong Kong, it's inevitable that human-boar encounters will occasionally occur. When boars enter city spaces or attack people, thry are usually culled.

To avoid unnecessary interaction, when hiking or exploring Hong Kong's vast wilderness, respect the boundaries of wild boars. Trying to feed them artificially inflates their populations and may encourage future attacks on humans.

If you see wild boars anywhere in the city, leave them be and don't try to interact with them or feed them.

When people get too close to boars, attacks can occur, which may force the local government to begin culling operations.

For example, just this year (2023), a wild boar was put down because of an attack on a woman and a young boy.

"According to some reports, the boar in this incident bit a boy after he tried to obstruct it with his bag." This situation could have potentially been avoided if the boar had been left alone.

The boar was tranquilized by government authorities and later put down because of the possibility of repeat attacks or entry into the city.

How Many Wild Boars Euthanized per Year in Hong Kong?

Because of a rise in boar-related human injuries, Hong Kong "Authorities euthanized 320 wild boars in 144 operations between November 2021 and the end of December 2022."

In 2023, despite a drastic decrease in boar sightings by the Hong Kong public, "There have been 220 boars killed in about 79 operations, almost double the number put down in 2022."

The government believes its policy of capturing and killing boars that venture into urban areas is the key to reduced sightings.

However, a spokesperson from Kadoorie Farm believes that rather than culling being an effective measure, education has played a key role in the lower number of boar sightings in 2023.

Speaking about the lowered sighting numbers, the spokesperson said, “This probably reflects the effect of the citywide ban on feeding [wild boars] and growing knowledge in the community that feeding is not good for the animals or the public.

What to Do if You Feel Threatened by a Wild Boar

While it's a tricky situation to manage, much of the disharmony between people and wild boars in Hong Kong can be mitigated with education and respect.

That being said, if you ever feel in danger around a wild boar, call the Hong Kong police by dialing 999.