Feral Pigs in Breylandspace
Colonising an alien planet is far more difficult than most people realise. The colonists need to either create an entire ecosystem from scratch or very carefully incorporate terran foodcrops and livestock into an existing completely alien biosphere. Unbalances aren’t just possible they’re practically expected. The key thing is not to allow ecological unbalances to become disasters that threaten the existance of the colony. In the modern era with established interstellar trade aid can be acquired from off world. This was not the case with the earlier distant colonies and the failure rate was very high; in fact it was amazing that any of these colonies survived at all.
Breyland owes its superpower status to one main factor. They got there several centuries earlier than their near neighbors and the first colonists somehow survived. However one early event left an notable mark on Breylandic culture and folklore; all the pigs died. As it was centuries before Breyland reestablished contact was the rest of humanity, these animals could not be replaced and for this reason pork did not become part of the traditional diet. Pigs however did become highly symbolic in folklore and national myth with magical winged pigs often appearing in Golden Age children’s cartoons. By the time pork could be cheaply and easily imported from other nearby worlds pigs had become practically holy animals; far too sacred and precious to actually eat. It took several centuries to overcome this attitude.
As a result of this cultural baggage it is very difficult for the Breyland born intellectuals who make up the core of the Colonial bureaucracy to take the problem of a feral pig population explosion seriously. After all the solution to any ‘highly problematic free range unprocessed bacon surplus’ is both obvious and delicious. Even in the case that the government acts the go to solution is to import apex predators like lions, tigers, or yargis. This usually ends rather poorly for the hapless colonists. So as a result at any one time there are five or six planets in Breylandspace that are experiencing a feral pig problem.
The most famous feral pig explosion occured on the planet Brandenburg (now one of the Four Worlds) and cuminated in the legendary Oinkkrieg (or oinkzkrieg) a sixty year epic struggle for survival between Man and Pig. The Brandenburgers did eventually get the pig population under control and redomesticated but there was a very real risk of humanity getting pushed off the planet. As this event happened early in the colony’s history it left a mark of the Brandenburger sense of humor. For example exclaming “for victory!” or humming a patriotic song before taking the first bite of a pork sausage.
The Situation on Mzab:
Mzab is a interesting case. The feral pig population which was once a mild annoyance to farmers and ranchers, is in recent years rapidly approaching oinkkrieg levels. As Mzab is a Muslim majority world (roughly 85%) the normal measures commonly taken to cull a feral pig explosion could not be taken without causing significant unrest. Successive governors simply ignored the problem and hoped it would go away. This put several noteworthy tribes in a bind between breaking Islamic teaching in order to deal with the pigs and the risk of angering their more fundimental and warlike neighbors. As the crisis deepened it begin harder and harder for outsiders to feel any sort of sympathy for the beleaguered locals as the workers of the nearby mining colony of Hammerfall were living on 3/4ths and sometimes even 2/3rds rations; and yes they would very much like some pork sausages.
The call thus came for the finer citizens of Mzab to put aside their hashpipes and their ridiculous barbarian customs and turn the ongoing crisis into a profit opportunity. While some Mazbians were indeed willing to shallow their pride and get their hands dirty in exchange for cold hard cash the tribal warlords and fanatical clerics of the northern provinces were not. The latter in perticular were in no mood to risk their social status and political power (only recently gained.) As social and economic pressure begin to build the Islamists, the Tribal Chieftains and the secular nationalists gathered into a strange uneasy alliance against their colonial overlords.
The pig crisis was not the leading cause of Mustafa’s Rebellion but the growing sense of unease through the colony caused by it and the disconnect between the population and the government made the ground very fertile for any seed of rebellion to take hold. The crisis would also lend a certain absurd character to the war.
As for how the pigs got there? No one knows. The Mzabians claim that the pigs are in fact an lost colony of Jews that were turned into pigs by Allah to punish them for their sins. No colonial admistrator takes such hashish fueled claims seriously, of course. Mzab is a place that lends itself to absurdity as anyone who has spent any time there can readily attest.
“Harvesting 66% of the total population per year is required to keep the Texas feral pig populations stable“
Thirty minute video on how to butcher a pig. Remember fam, either we eat the pigs or else the pigs will eat us.
End Note: Breyland refers to both the Capital or Homeworld and the larger political entity (The Viceroyalty of Breyland.) There are approximately eighty billion people in Breylandspace roughly one quarter of which are ethnic Breylanders.
The star and thus the system is named Hammerfel. The main planet (a Mars-like) is named Hammerfall. This state of affairs confuses the hell out of everybody, much to the amusement of the locals.