The pigs playing a key role in Devon rewilding project

  • Watch Claire Manning's report


Two wild pigs have been let loose in part of South Devon as part of a project to 'rewild' the area.

The land at Sharpham Estate near Totnes has seen the return of many native species of animals in the past 12 months.

A project has been rewilding 50 acres of farmland in a bid to protect the natural environment so that this landscape can repair itself.

The process involves reintroducing animal species which are more native to this habitat, and Sharpham Estate released two pigs this week.

The Mangalitsa pigs have been let loose on part of the ground to mimic the actions of wild boar on the land and help churn up the soil with their snouts.

The farm manager at Lower Sharpham Barton Farm, Jack Skuse, said: "So these pigs we are hoping will start to change the way this landscape functions, the way it looks and hopefully that will bring back loads and loads of biodiversity.

These wonderful charismatic pigs, they are going to be here rootling around, grazing the turf but also turning up the turf opening up some bare soil and within that bare soil we'll see some of the pioneering species come back.

Jack Skuse, Farm manager at Sharpham Barton Farm

These wonderful charismatic pigs, they are going to be here rootling around, grazing the turf but also turning up the turf opening up some bare soil and within that bare soil we'll see some of the pioneering species come back.

Jack Skuse, Farm Manager at Sharpham Barton Farm believes the charismatic pigs will pioneer the reintroduction of additional species on the land Credit: ITV West Country

The pigs which are relatives of wild boar, which were hunted to extinction around 400 years ago, but the runner of Rewilding Futures, Nick Viney, is pleased with the introduction of the animals.

She said: "I like these pigs because they have an excellent kind of work ethic.

"They're here to do a job and you can see how they are designed, there is so much power in that front end.

"They can really start to create these divots in the landscape, creating little micro-climates and to just try and free up the seedbank that's held underneath this very stiff grass."

This rewilding project's been given more than £177,000 of lottery funding.

Just one year in, Sharpham says it has seen an increase in species such as barn owl, as well as great green bush crickets and cirl buntings.

Katie Tokus at Sharpham Estate believes that the project is intended to remind people about challenges to biodiversity. Credit: ITV West Country

Katie Tokus at Sharpham Estate believes the project is intended to remind people about challenges to biodiversity and the importance of investing in conservation.

She said: "This project is called Sharpham Wild for People and it's really important for us to communicate the messages around nature and rewilding to people.

If people don't get it and if we don't get it, how will we care for nature?

Katie Tokus, Sharpham Estate

Read more: