Warnings to not approach wild boars have been repeated after a ten-year-old girl was gored after she and her father got out of their car to watch a group of them.
Giulia, 10, was travelling home from her tennis practice near Marseille when they stopped to watch the animals gather as a woman gave them food.
“We usually just look at them through the window,” Giulia told La Provence. "They didn’t look scared or anything, and I saw that there were lots of baby ones with them.”
Giulia and her father made the unfortunate decision to step out of the car. No sooner had they done so, the 10 year old was charged by a male boar, which struck her in the leg. Before she could react, another, this time a female, hit her with its sharp tusks.
"It all happened in a split second, I didn’t have time to react, I was in shock,” she said. “At first I thought I had been bitten.”
Fortunately, Giulia was able to scramble back into the car before the boars could do more damage. Her father rushed her to hospital.
The boars had left their mark: Giulia had open gashes under her right knee and her left tibia, both more than 4cm long and at risk of infection.
“I’ll never try to see boars up close again,” she said. “That is also why I want to tell people my story. People need to be very careful around boars”
How dangerous are wild boars?
The incident, which happened last Wednesday, shows just how abruptly boars can change their behaviour, particularly when their young are present.
Their razor sharp tusks, which protrude from under their jaws, grow throughout their life, and boars are adept at using them for foraging and for defending themselves.
Hervé Santerre, director of Amnéville Zoo, told Le Républicain Lorraine that boars have a very defensive mentality.
“They are more startled by our presence than we are by theirs,” he said. “You have to maintain a neutral body language, not running or trying to approach or follow them, all of which is seen as aggression.
“But they can effectively become very dangerous if a sow feels that her young are under threat. This can happen even without you doing anything, just by walking nearby. In those situations boars can charge people.
“If that happens you should stand against a tree or climb on top of something. In any case, the boar will give up quickly,” he said. “Don’t forget that we represent danger for them.”