Essay Coexistence

Cooperation with Wild Boars in Palestine

The fertile crescent was once an immensely productive region which included today’s Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, a part of Iran, and even Kuwait. The colonial system destroyed people’s social relationships, their contact with nature, and their knowledge of how to handle the Earth properly. Today, most of this area is desert. There is a dream that people of all the area’s religions, cultures, and historical backgrounds live together again to rebuild the fertile crescent.

The problem of the wild boar in Palestine is a useful example of the obstacles that have to be overcome in order to achieve peaceful coexistence in the area. Since the early 1990s, especially after the Second Intifada, the erection of the wall, the road blocks, and the increase in gated Israeli settlements, the number of wild boars has grown in our area. Israeli settlers even began to abandon wild boars in our areas. There are photos and videos documenting this. We had no trouble with wild boars in Palestine before that. My grandfather, who was 107 years old, had never heard of wild boars in our area. But today, we have a big problem with them destroying our fields and gardens.

We used to have a sophisticated technique of cultivating grain, grapes, fig trees, and summer vegetables without irrigation. This is how much of the food needs of the villagers were met. We were even able to export wheat to Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and other countries. Then, the wild boars came and destroyed our fields. The farmers put up fences, but the boars simply broke through. Nothing helped. People hunted the animals, secretly shot them in the night. They risk being discovered by the Israeli authorities who do not allow them to have weapons. Then the farmers came up with the idea of poisoning water ponds. But boars are very smart animals; they do not drink water without first testing it. When the farmers set up a new water tank, one of the boars approached it. If something happened to this animal, none of the others would drink from it. In the meantime, most farmers have given up. Today, we produce almost no grain.

For me, it was never okay that we killed the boars. We humans must be intelligent enough to deal differently with living beings. Killing them seems to be the simplest solution, but it is also the most stupid. I never wanted to fight against animals or plants. I do not want to deliberately kill anything, not even ants or other insects; I do not want to go against animals.

I found a similar attitude to my own in Tamera. Instead of fighting the boars, the attempt is made here to live peacefully with them. Once, together with gardeners from Tamera, I got so close to the wild boars that I could touch one. The problem of the animals destroying part of the fields is not fully resolved in Tamera either, but the way people treat the subject here has encouraged me to try new ways. I have found the courage to address this issue publicly in Palestine, starting with people in my region.

Until now, the statement had been that the boars do not belong to Palestine, that they are not a natural, original part of this habitat and that we have to get rid of them. This view is supported by the negative image that religious leaders have given to pigs. However, the Qur’an only states that it is forbidden to eat pork. It does not say anything against pigs and wild boars. But to persuade people not to eat pork, religious leaders have given a number of reasons to keep away from the pigs. They have said that pigs are dirty, that the males do not take care of the females, that the animals do not sweat and are therefore very dirty inside, that they smell bad, and so on.

tire fence

I started saying that we should no longer kill wild boars but instead find solutions for living with them. The animals are here; we cannot get rid of them. Animals that feel threatened produce even more offspring. This is the nature of nature. Then I came up with an interim solution. In Palestine, we have a big problem with the disposal of old tires so I started building fences out of tires. It was enough to tie the tires together with some wire. The boars respected the fence—it worked! More and more people try this method now, so far with much success. The erection of these fences was already a new kind of solution—a step away from the old belief in the need for material barriers—because it was, of course, clear to the farmers that the wild boars could easily overcome these fences.

Then, I left an opening in the fence in my garden. I said to the farmers, “Boars are living creatures, hungry like us and in need of food.” I created a corridor for the animals that leads to a mulberry tree. I know how much wild boars like and need the fruit of this tree. They could easily get into the rest of my garden from there, but they cooperate. I offer them the mulberries, and they respect my garden.

But unlike animals that respond quickly to a friendly solution, people do not change their habits so quickly. The religious campaign against pigs continues. However, as the Qur’an only states that we should not eat pork, I once asked one of the religious leaders, “Maybe Allah wants us not to eat pork to protect this animal. Have you ever thought about that?”



Tamera Peace Research & Education Center’s recently-published book, Defend the Sacred: If Life Wins, There Will Be No Losers, contains this essay and many others. Tamera invites you and activists from around the world to participate in their upcoming conference on resistance and regenerating the community of life, in Tamera, Portugal, August 16–19, and join this work.




About Saad Dagher

Saad Dagher is Ambassador of GEN (Global Ecovillage Network) in Palestine, agricultural engineer and environmentalist, and has specialised in agricultural ecology for 25 years. He is also a yoga teacher, Reiki master, and beekeeper. Dagher introduced the concept of agrarian ecology into Palestine and has recently set up his own agro-ecological farm (The Humanist Farm—Ma’azouza). He is also helping to build the first Palestinian eco-village—Farkha —in the West Bank.

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