A wild boar (Sus scrofa)—also known as a wild pig or feral hog—forages under a starry night sky near the village of Gyulaj, western Hungary. These opportunistic omnivores are well adapted to a wide range of habitats, from forests and swamplands to parched deserts. Native to Europe and Asia, wild boars were introduced throughout much of the rest of the world in the 19th century. Due in large part to the species’ generalist nature, they quickly became established across one of the largest geographic ranges of any terrestrial mammal, and remain so today. Females and young males live in matriarchal groups called sounders, while older males typically remain solitary outside of the breeding season once they reach sexual maturity. Although wild boars are generally most active during the early morning and late afternoon, in areas where hunting pressure and other human disturbances are high, the animals commonly shift their patterns toward a more nocturnal way of life.

For this shot, Hungarian photographer Bence Máté used a specially designed device consisting of a timer and a motor attached directly to his camera lens. The device enabled Máté to control focus and exposure throughout the shot—capturing both a flashed image of the foraging boar in the foreground and a 40-second exposure of the stars of the Milky Way in the background.

Gyulaj, Hungary

Bence Máté

Bence Máté became a photographer in 1999 at the age of 13, after using his savings to buy his first camera—a Russian-made Zenith. Máté’s hobby quickly morphed into an obsession, and he often skipped school in favor of being outside photographing wild creatures. He has been a professional photographer since 2004, and regularly leads wildlife photography tours. Máté specializes in capturing the behavior birds in natural settings. His work has won many international awards, including the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year honor in 2010.

bioGraphic is powered by the California Academy of Sciences, a renowned scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring, explaining, and sustaining life on Earth.