Boar hunting 'Lanceo al Jabalí' set for comeback in Spain
Pigsticking, popular in India under the Raj, could be legalised in a Spanish region
where private hunting is encouraged
It was the kind of sport loved by some colonial Britons in India, whose idea of entertainment was to chase a wild boar on horseback and lance it to death.
Now pigsticking, as it was known, looks set for a comeback thanks to authorities in the Spanish region of Castilla-La Mancha, south of Madrid, who are expected to make it legal in the region's plentiful private hunting estates.
The measure has provoked the ire of local environmentalists who accuse the authorities of turning the clock back to the middle ages, when pigsticking was common in several parts of Europe.
The man pushing the new law is Enrique del Aguila, who runs a private hunting estate near Villatobas, central Spain, and describes himself as the major lancer of the Pigsticking International Club. He said British visitors to his estate had already taken part in pigsticking hunts with lances.
"We have had British people come to pigstick," he said. "It is something they used to practise in India. Right now it is neither legal or illegal. It is something we do with friends."
The regional government's hunting committee has already expressed its approval for pigsticking and Del Aguila expects a definitive change to the region's hunting laws in the next couple of weeks.
"I think it has a good chance of being legalised because it will bring new clients to a region that already counts hunting as one of its two biggest sources of income," he said.
He claimed pigsticking was 2,000 years old and no more cruel than other forms of hunting. "Look, bullfighting is also polemical but it is legal," he said. "Hunting generally provokes the opposition of environmentalists. This is just one more form of hunting, and the animals do not suffer any more or less than in other forms."
He had founded his pigsticking club, which his website describes as "a gentlemen's club", to attract new clients.
"There are people from other countries who want to come and practise this sport," he said. "We already have a lot of British visitors who come for the partridge hunting."
Del Aguila promotes his services with a video showing a group of lance-bearing riders chasing down a wild boar. The boar is eventually wounded by one of the lancers. It then tries to escape, but is surrounded by riders, lanced again and eventually stops and rolls over on to its back.
"Castilla-La Mancha is becoming a centre for experimenting with ever more cruel forms of hunting," said the Ecologistas en Acción group.
Rosa Montero, a columnist on El Pais, accused the conservative People's party, which now controls the region's government, of winding the clock back to the middle ages. "Next they will be bringing back serfdom," she complained.