Sheep Occupy Madrid Street to Protest Grazing Laws



Spanish shepherds led flocks of sheep through the streets of downtown Madrid on Sunday in defense of ancient grazing, migration and droving rights threatened by urban sprawl and man-made frontiers. Jesus Garzón, president of a shepherds council, said about 5,000 sheep and 60 head of cattle crossed the city to exercise the right to droving routes that existed before Madrid grew from a rural hamlet to the great capital it is today.


Pablo Blazquez Dominguez / Getty Images

Shepherds have a right to use 78,000 miles of paths for seasonal livestock migrations from cool highland pastures in summer to warmer grazing in winter. The movement is called transhumance and in Spain it involves around a million animals, mostly sheep and cattle. Some paths have been used annually for more than 800 years, and modern-day Madrid is in the way of two north-south routes. The Puerta del Sol - a thronging plaza that is Spain's equivalent of New York City's Times Square - now straddles one of the routes.

For the past 18 years, shepherds have halted traffic in autumn to assert their rights to cross the city.


Susana Vera / Reuters


Susana Vera / Reuters

Pictures from previous protests


October 24, 2009. Photo credit

Runaway Sheep

October 31, 2010. Photo credit


Procession of Sheep in Madrid, November  20, 2005. Photo credit.


November 12, 2006. Photo credit


A parade of sheep through the center of Madrid on September 9, 2007. Photo credit


September 9, 2007. Photo credit


October 26, 2008. Photo credit

[via SFGate]

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  1. Maybe they ought to create a passage with pastures after certain distances so sheep can cross twice a year and make a festival out of it! After all, the Spanish love festivals and never have enough of them! The sheep don't seem to mind and city slickers look like they're enjoying the break in monotony as well...


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