Saturday, 23 April 2016

Goats of Es Vedra culled

Es Vedra's goats culled

Mountain Goat (Photo: Public Domain)

The mysterious rocky island of Es Vedra, off the southern coast of Ibiza in the Balearic Islands, has lost its goat population. The goats were rather cruelly culled, or killed being a more accurate description, and animal-lovers that knew about the proposed cull were disgusted to find that the killing of the goats went ahead despite campaigns to stop this.

The goats had been living on the island for the last 25 years, after a male and four females had been introduced there to replace an earlier colony, and estimates put their numbers as being between 40 and 50 animals.  The goats were a great talking point for local people in Ibiza because some people didn't even believe the animals existed and were no more than another of the many myths and strange stories about the islet, but the goats were very real and one of the attractions of cruises around the island of Es Vedra was to see if you could spot any goats there. 

The problem was, though, that the goats had little to eat on the barren and rocky island, which was, indeed, becoming even more barren and rocky due to the animals eating whatever vegetation they could find. This was causing soil erosion because the goats were often ripping the plants out of what little soil there was there.

The local government stepped in because there are endemic and protected flora growing on Es Vedra, as well as some interesting fauna, including Eleanor's Falcon (Falco eleanorae), which breeds on the island, and a subspecies of the Ibizan Wall Lizard (Podarcis pityusensis formenterae). The island's wildlife needed protecting unlike the poor goats that were a threat to the unique habitat Es Vedra provided.

Formentera Wall Lizard ( Photo: Arnau.sellares)

Sadly the government decided that the goats would have to go and that it was too difficult to catch them all and remove them to Ibiza, despite offers from animal-lovers willing to find homes for them.  On the morning of 4 February 2016 at 8am. environmental agents sailed over to Es Vedra and started shooting at the terrified goats. By 2pm it was all over and the bodies of the slaughtered goats were left where they fell.  It had also been decided that the corpses of the animals would be left to decompose naturally, even though this is against the law (Ley 8|2003 de Sanidad Animal).

Caterina Amengual, Director of Natural Areas of Biodiversity for the Balearic Department of the Environment is reported to have said: "It's a question of priorities and the conservation of ecosystems is a priority."

Although it is very sad to know what happened to the goats, and in no way do I condone the way the animals were killed, I can see her point of view. Something had to be done to protect the natural wildlife of Es Vedra and the goats had no such protection. 

Es Vedra at Sunset (Photo: Public Domain)

Es Vedra is an interesting island, not just because of its flora and fauna, but because it is the subject of many myths and legends, including that it has mysterious magnetic powers that mess up navigation and that it is where an underwater base for UFOs exists. There have been reported sightings of UFOs near Es Vedra. It has even been linked with Atlantis, and on the coast opposite it is an area that is known as Atlantis because of its unusual rock formations. In reality it was an old quarry and the rocks got taken away to build the walls of Ibiza Town. 

Trek to film the lizards of Es Vedra

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