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.
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.
Pictures from previous protests
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