Prohibido el Paso

Partridge Country, land of hunters, closed roads, Encomienda de Mudela. Driving back to where I saw the two Spanish Imperial Eagles I again went towards Encomienda de Mudela. The number of partridges here is incredible. Yes they are a common bird here in La Mancha but this area is loaded with them.

The lands belong to Encomienda de Mudela owned by La Ministra de Medio Ambiente, y Medio Rural y Marino, i.e. Ministry of the Environment, Rural Areas and Marine. 99.97% of the land is private and there are signs on nearly all the tracks saying you are not allowed to enter. On many roads you are told not to leave the road. It is a stunning area hidden in amongst the hills of arable land, dehesa, scrub and oaks. The one thing you do notice is the amount of partridge walking about. There are thousands. They have feeders set up all along the roads so the partridge have plenty to eat. It´s not out of kindness, but because they are extensively hunted here.

I don´t mind hunting or fishing, where the fish dies, so long as it´s for food and not just sport. I just wonder though what Franco did with all the 4,601 partridge he shot whilst there! The following photo is of the ex-dictator with his “bag” and was taken in 1959 but sensored by the government and only released in Jan 2010.

The area I believe is a hunting reserve where the wealthy and royals come to have a bit of sport. But on 10,445 hectares of land? They need that much? Let´s not mention the Duke of Westminsters  near 15,000 Ha estate in La Garganta further south west near Fuencaliente closing off huge tracts of land, where people used to walk, for private hunting and caused controversy of his own. Not to throw a shadow on his weddingday, but Prince William and his brother Harry shot 740 partridge on the Dukes estate a few years ago. The Duke of Wellington has 1000 hectares in Granada and also has controversy with the locals. Emilio Botín, President of Banco Santander, has 11,000 hectares in Luciana all fenced off for his private hunting parties. I´ve got 76 m2 and occasionally like a walk in the wild but would get chased off these estates at gunpoint if I tried to “shoot” a bird or animal with my deadly camera and 500mm lens.

So why then does the Ministry of Env., Rural Areas and the Marine support this aristocratic closing off of a most beautiful part of La Mancha? Are all the wildest most beautiful areas to become fenced off private estates for the hunting pleasure of the wealthy?

In any case, the SIE´s didn´t turn up so the top photo is a partridge and some flowers…and below is a shot of a tree I legally shouldn´t leave the road to touch.

2011_04_05 CdC - Dehesa
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