In this savage boar hunt, shooters forgo sleep and comfort, marauding the bush in central Queensland, in an attempt to reduce the population of feral pigs – Australia’s most damaging agricultural pest.
- The King and Queen of CQ Big Boar Competition involves a three-day wild hog hunt in Jambin, central Queensland
- The competition – reputed to be Australia’s largest – has seen nearly 900 feral pigs killed this year
- Experts say better monitoring is needed to assess the effects of these hunts and properly tackle the feral pig problem in Queensland
Nestled in the wild undergrowth of the rolling hills of rural Queensland, a boy points a gun through the hood of a 4×4 at a slobbering tusked beast.
DISCLAIMER: This article includes images of killed animals which some may find upsetting.
He’s trained by his father, who tells him to think about the future, where the beast will run if he doesn’t shoot the perfect shot.
They are the infantry of a guerrilla against one of the most important agricultural threats in the country: the wild boars.
In central Queensland, they hunt for three days and three nights as part of the famous Jambin pigging competition.
The hunt – officially named the King and Queen of CQ Big Boar Competition – is said to be Australia’s largest and falls somewhere between prize hunting and pest control.
âWe started it four years ago to eradicate pigs in the county,â said organizer Matthew Weeks.
He quickly became a mainstay of the community attracting hunters from as far away as North Queensland and New South Wales.
Dan Clarke and his cousin Andy said the hunt has become an annual bonding ritual for them and their sons.
âWe’ve been coming from the startâ¦ [boars] appear in a lot more places now, âMr. Clarke said.
“This yearâ¦ the boys shot that pig on their own, then he left and they followed him and shot him again.”
Farm manager Adrian Roots says it has become an important part of solving one of the “biggest problems” on his land.
âThese big pigs don’t live in the open,â he said.
“It’s hard work but it’s importantâ¦ with the erosion and the risk that if a disease gets here we can’t stop it because we can’t control it [boars]. “
Illness and damage
The national feral pig action plan attributes more than $ 106 million in agricultural damage to feral pigs.
âThe feral pigs will have an impact on crops, pasturesâ¦ they can prey on livestock,â said Heather Channon, national coordinator for the management of feral pigs in Australia.
“They are involved in the transmission of diseases including foot-and-mouth disease, African swine fever, they can also spread leptospirosis which can cause abortion storms and stillbirths in cattle.”
Banana shire advisor and Capricorn Coast pest management committee member Colin Semple said wild boars were a specific problem for farmers who grew sorghum.
“[Boars] go ahead and work in the middleâ¦ where they’re not that visible where they feel safer, âSemple said.
“They don’t just eat it, they spill a lot of it too.”
More research needed
At least 70 percent of Australia’s feral pigs must be slaughtered each year to prevent a rapid recovery of the population.
Nearly 900 wild boars were killed by hunters for this year’s Jambin competition – which Roots said “would eliminate much of the problem” on his land.
However, Dr Channon said a lack of research made it difficult to assess the effects of concentrated culls – such as Jambin hunting – on the general population.
“Intensive ground shooting operations can reduce local feral pig populations, are rarely effective in limiting damage and are not suitable for population-wide management over large areas,” said Dr Channon. .
Dr Channon said more comprehensive monitoring was needed to properly track population changes and damage from feral pigs.
She said the recently introduced national feral pig action plan aimed to shift the management of feral pigs from âshort-term and reactiveâ to a more collaborative and coordinated strategy.
Spoils of war
Hundreds of people have flocked to the Jambin Hotel Motel to end the boar hunt.
The bloody carcasses of the larger wild boars were laid as farmers gathered to celebrate a brief respite from the pests.
It might be a horrible sight, but it was good for the community.
The registration fee raised more than $ 10,000 for local schools, while the pig carcasses were donated as food to a crocodile farm near Rockhampton.
âEveryone is sticking to the rules and staying in their own country, and we can eradicate a lot of the problem,â Roots said.