Over 500 animals slaughtered as Portuguese estate makes way for massive solar energy park

Over 500 animals have been slaughtered in a walled estate in Azambuja purportedly making way for a massive solar energy park.

Uproar began over social media last weekend after photographs of ‘the massacre’ were uploaded by some of the Spanish hunters who had taken part.

“We did it again!” extolled one in English, then reverting to Spanish to proclaim a ‘super record hunt!’: 540 animals with 16 hunters’.

The horror of the incident was outlined by the Silvino Lúcio, vice-president of Azambuja town council, who told online Fundamental that this couldn’t be called ‘a hunt’. It was a massacre, he stressed: “Those animals had no way of escape… they were confined within the property’s walls” and the forest that should have afforded them some protected has been denuded.

It was a ‘cull’, in other words, of deer and wild boar as the estate itself is planning a gigantic solar park, despite being designated as an ecological Reserve (REN).

News of the solar park came during this pandemic year – and has generated ‘revolt’, particularly among environmentalists.

But that ‘revolt’ is nothing on the repulsion generated by the images of last weekend’s carnage.

Azambuja council appears to be taking the matter further: has complained to the ICNF (forestries institute) and to central government (see below).

Say reports today, the hunt was organised at Herdade/ Quinta Torre Bela by Spanish company ‘Hunting Spain Portugal Monteros de la Cabra’.

Local paper O Mirante and national tabloid Correio da Manhã both refer to Hunting Spain Portugal (initially described as Hunting Pains Portugal) as an organisation that organises hunts in Spain and Portugal every year.

CM suggests the owners of Torre Bela ‘guaranteed the hunt went ahead in land designated as a hunting zone’.

But such has been the level of disgust that today minister for the environment João Pedro Matos Fernandes has revoked with immediate effect Torre Bela’s hunting licence.

Says Diário de Notícias, Matos Fernandes has been “shocked” – describing the online post showing the lines of dead animals as a “vile act of bragging”.

Political party PAN is also hotly pursuing this horror about which no official public entity appears to have had forewarning.

Latest news via TSF radio is that an investigation is underway with Public Ministry personnel already ‘on the ground’.

Matos Fernandes told TSF this morning that those involved will “very probably be criminalised”. He was referring to ‘the organisers, those who have the (hunting) licence and very possibly the hunters who took part’.

At this point it’s impossible to tell whether the furore will affect the massive solar energy installation planned for Torre Bela – an area described by local paper Valor Local in September as  “equivalent to 775 football pitches but which jars with the fact that it is also forest and agricultural land, surrounded by a unit of particular landscape”.

Stresses O Mirante online: “Portuguese environment agency APA is evaluating the environmental impact study for the installation of more than 650,000 solar panels at Quinta da Torre Bela. Last week Azambuja municipal council had a meeting with representatives of the firms responsible for the installation of the panels who guaranteed the preservation of the biodiversity of Quinta da Torre”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com