Wild Spain – Land of Traditional Transhumance

1 x 52 min

The migrational sheep farming called transhumance is a very old tradition. In early summer by time vast landscapes of Central- and South Spain are begun desiccating, also the cattle are driven hundreds of kilometers into the mountains with a higher precipitation. Until the 20th century the transhumance in Spain mobilized over four billion sheep, goats and cattle. A dramatic change occurred in the 1960s with the EG-Agricultural politic. The transhumance was threatened to disappear entirely. And with it sub-natural cultural landscapes, traditional economic systems, as well as a huge amount of wildlife and plants. The consequences to landscape and nature were dramatically. Vulture, wolf and bear and many other carrion recycler didn’t find enough food. Since the 1990s conservationists and herdsman associations fight for the preservation of the transhumance. Eventually the state and society recognized the cultural and conservational importance of the transhumance to the country and Europe. A lot of old trails were revived, the whilom Cañadas Reales, the royal trails, were adjusted under protection by law. A blessing for nature: today thousands of vultures are hauling their circles across the plateaus and through the mountains of Spain. Still, like almost all of the traditional agricultural systems all around the world, the transhumance is struggling for survival. Nevertheless the state isn’t hopeless, because not only shepherds and herdsmen have rediscover this old tradition, also the nature related tourism is getting more and more interested in the transhumance. The reason: here you find peace, a simple life and a lot of nature in the heart of Spain, in the old Spain, in the real Spain. The film as a documentation with elements of reportage takes place at the Cañadas, the traditional trails of he herds. It narrates of the life of sheep and cattle, of the herdsmen and stockbreeders and of the landscape and the nature through which their journey goes. A herd makes round about 20 kilometers a day, cattle with calves often just 15. Therefore the distance of 300 to 400 kilometers from the winter to the summer meadows becomes to an energy-sapping, extending over several weeks lasting march. Thereby the herds range impressive landscapes from Andalusia up to the Cuenca mountains, from the Extremadura to the point of the Sierra de Gredos, one of the most monumental mountains of Spain. The journey is pebbly and full of deprivation, but also affected by unique experiences. In the midst of an extraordinary nature, which could be found more and more rarely in Europe. Eventually, the herdsman, sheep and the cattle and last but not least the faithful shepherd dogs com-passed their destination: the green summer meadows in the mountains. Already expected from their families, up here the traditional herdsman feasts are celebrated. Back home again. And the animals – they range through an emerging boundless freedom of this mountain area for the next few months.

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