2,000 Sheep Led Through Streets of Spain's Capital
[An Nahar] Spanish shepherds led a flock of more than 2,000 sheep through central Madrid on Sunday in defense of ancient grazing, migration and droving rights threatened by urban sprawl and modern agricultural practices.
Many tourists and residents were surprised to see traffic cut to allow the ovine parade to bleat its way across some of Madrid's most upscale urban streets.
The right to use droving routes that wind across land that was open fields and woodland before Madrid grew from a rural hamlet to the great metropolis it is today has existed since at least 1273.
Every year, a handful of shepherds defend the right and, following an age-old tradition, on Sunday paid 25 maravedis — coins first minted in the 11th century — to city hall to use the crossing.
Shepherds have a right to use 78,000 miles (125,000 kilometers) of paths for seasonal livestock migrations from cool highland pastures in summer to warmer and more protected lowland grazing in winter.
The movement is called transhumance and in Spain up until recently involved close to a million animals a year, mostly sheep and cattle.
Posted by: Fred