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Are there really goats on Es Vedrà?

Yes, but not for much longer

The mystery of whether goats exist on the islet of Es Vedrà has been solved. Now that the Spanish Government has mandated their removal, any doubters of their existence have been signally proved wrong. The 40 odd goats have chewed their way through half the natural flora there, including plants that are unique to the mystical rock and of high scientific value. As the only animal there, they have no natural predators, so have taken the place over as their own habitat. The goats have unwittingly been named a threat to national Spanish botany – if only they had known.

The goats were first introduced to the islet during the 20th Century; they disappeared and then had a kind of Second Coming, miraculously reappearing 20-25 years later. As well as the precious flora, the goats are causing soil erosion by pulling out the protective layer of grass including the roots with their teeth. This means that with any rainfall, the soil is simply getting washed away.

Since the news of the removal of the goats was first announced, around 6000 signatories have supported an initiative on to prevent extermination of the goat population or at least get them transported to Ibiza. Caterina Amengual, the Government's general director of natural areas and biodiversity wants to put the minds of the public at rest and assures us she doesn't want to hear the word “extermination”. The Government wants to do its best to draw out the animals alive.

What is being discussed right now is transporting the goats on a safe vessel to Ibiza and putting them up for adoption, though no final decision has been made. The priority is to preserve Es Vedrà and its plants and give the goats new homes. The plants are protected by a European directive, but the goats are not, and it seems the rock comes first

After a dry summer a lot of the goats are in a bad state, showing signs of malnutrition, so it may be better to get them away from the islet to a place where they can do less damage and live a happier life.

With the island being fairly inaccessible and with no proper port for boats to go to and collect the goats, the animals may yet win out and stay in their home. No matter what happens to the goats, we can finally put an end to the their status as an urban myth, since it seems they were there all the time happily chewing away.

WORDS: Julian Heathcote PHOTOGRAPHY: Vicente Planells Marí

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