The true horror of poverty in certain areas of the Alentejo is being seen today on a remote ‘estate’ near Esteveira (Abrantes) where 800 goats ran out of food months ago.
Of the original herd, only 400 remain, and these are dying at the rate of 10-12 per day.
Shepherd Bruno Gonçalves has been describing the drama to national tabloid Correio da Manhã.
The starving animals – including dogs – belong to the land’s owner, who live in nearby Avis, he explained.
“He hasn’t bought any grain and he hasn’t even paid me,” Gonçalves told CM.
The animals are dying because “they don’t have food, they are only eating what is on the ground”.
With this year’s record temperatures leaving the landscape even more parched and spartan than usual, there is literally nothing nutritious left for the animals to eat.
The goats started dying in May, said the shepherd, and at first “a company from Évora” would turn up to collect the carcasses.
“They stopped coming,” he said. “And as I don’t have any money for fuel, I cannot pick them up with the tractor to bury them.”
Another problem exacerbating the horror is that the property lies on the limits of two councils – Abrantes and Ponte de Sor – and as a result, it seems to be ‘falling through the cracks of the system’.
GNR police have visited and will now be contacting the municipal veterinarian, says CM – but it is not clear which municipality has jurisdiction, nor whether the remaining goats can be saved.