The expansion of the wild boar (Sus scrofa) home range as an element of manifestation of specist spaces through a social geographical survey.

Human beings, according to a metaphor used by geographer Eugenio Turri, tend to define the landscape as a theatre in which they are authors and spectators of their own representations of themselves[1] . This leads them to observe space predominantly through an anthropocentric lens, placing nonhuman animals as marginal elements. This reading of space, can lead to the development of an intentional blindness[2] begging the question: what happens when flora and fauna break into the wild invading spaces that man had hitherto felt to be unquestionably his own?

This was the starting point for this study, which questions how the increase in population density and expansion of the wild boar’s (Sus scrofa) home range in urban and suburban settings has challenged these practices. The physiological and ethological characteristics of the wild boar, such as its high reproductivity and opportunistic feeding behaviour, bring about physical changes in the biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems, modifying the habitats[3] and imposing forced coexistence in urban areas. This research focuses on the case study of Rome, specifically the neighbourhoods close to the Insugherata Natural Area managed by the Ente Regionale Roma Natura and the Veio Park system in the north-east of the city, where some populations of Sus scrofa have arrived since the 2000s[4][5] .

The qualitative research was carried out by means of a semi-structured interview, which was addressed to 55 individuals living in the neighbourhoods close to the area covered by the research. The aim was to find out what critical issues they perceived with regard to the presence of wild boars and whether this had in any way impacted their perception of the area.

The ‘out-of-context’ location of the wild boar reminds man of his vulnerability to variables that he is not always able to control. Usually in urban contexts, the irruption of the wild boar is perceived as an infestation resulting from a lack of care or a lack of organisation on the part of the administration, because the citizen takes for granted markedly anthropocentric processes of territorialisation[6] .  It also emerged in the present research that although only 23.6 % of those interviewed stated that the presence of wild boar affected their daily activities, 80 % considered it problematic, and as many as 74.5 % would be in favour, in various ways, of controlling the population. The research showed that although the presence of the wild boar challenges the way in which spaces are inhabited, specist practices are not questioned. In fact, in 60% of cases the interviewees reiterated the need for a clearer division between the urban and the ‘wild’, thus systematically reaffirming specist ideology.

[1] Cf: E. Turri, « Il paesaggio come teatro : dal territorio vissuto al territorio rappresentato ». Marsilio, Venice, 1998.

[2] D. J. Simons, C. F. Chabris, Gorillas in Our Midst: Sustained Inattentional Blindness for Dynamic Events. in Perception, vol. 28, no. 9, (1999), pp. 1059-1074.

[3] C. G. Jones, J. H. Lawton, M. Shachak, Organisms as ecosystem engineers. Oikos. 69.

[4] G. Monterosso, R. Sinibaldi, A. Somaschini, The wild boar in the Veio Regional Park. Damage management and prevention strategies. Gazzetta Ambiente – Rivista sull’Ambiente e sul Territorio no. 1, (2012), pp. 99-107.

[5] Todini A, Crosti R, The wild boar (Sus scrofa) as a determinant of vegetation changes in a Mediterranean urban forest: impact on biodiversity in a protected area. Forest@ vol. 17, (2020), pp. 71-77.

[6] S. Nascimben, Specist spaces: specism as seen by a geographer. Lecce, Youcanprint, 2019.

LONGO Martino

Territories And Politics Of Animalities: Critical Animal Geographies Between Domination And Resistance.


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