Thursday, 18 May 2023, 22:38
The Eco Reserve in Ojén faces its second eviction order for failing to comply with environmental and animal welfare regulations.
The reserve was closed down by the regional government’s sustainable development office in Malaga for similar issues in February in 2022. An inspection in 2020 detected seven breaches, but due to the pandemic and the difficulties experienced by businesses, the Junta de Andalucía allowed them more time to solve the issues.
But the Junta has detected 15 more serious breaches of the rules, triggering a fresh threat. The nearly 82 hectares of woodland and cork oak groves where 100 animals currently live will no longer be managed by the company Ecotour S.L., represented by Antonio Calvo Aguilar.
According to the Junta de Andalucía, it will be the sustainable development office in Malaga who will provisionally take charge and manage the animals and "guarantee all the necessary resources for their welfare, feeding and maintenance".
"Fifteen breaches have been detected which represent a serious breach of the regulations,” the Junta said.
Inspectors deemed the management of Calvo as "a serious breach of the regulations governing zoos in Andalucía" and stated that the reserve lacked a proper licence from the Ojen town hall, or registration of livestock. Other breaches detected related to the management of hazardous waste, and the lack of authorisation for works, infrastructure and equipment.
About 80 people protested the move in front of the Junta's sustainable development office in Malaga on Tuesday 16 May, while a campaign on Change.org, started by the current manager at the start of the month, had gained more than 70,000 signatures.
Antonio Calvo told SUR that on 3 May he received an eviction warning advising him to leave the property within ten days. "If these are working days, the date would be 17 May," he calculated. "We have received other notifications, but our lawyer tells us not to take it badly, that these are their procedures. It's a way of scaring you," Calvo said.
Calvo is concerned, not just for the 65,000-euro fine he faces, but for the welfare of the animals. "The Mediterranean forest is very dry and very stressed. There are no resources, no grass, no pasture, no fruit," he said.
"How do you feed more than 100 animals," he asked. "We are penalised for installing water tanks to collect the little water that has fallen in winter and store it until summer. The sustainable development office has forgotten its function, which is to look after the animals".
The Eco Reserve in Ojén is a popular day out for those who enjoy being amid beautiful countryside with the chance to interact with wildlife.
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