The Eco Reserve in Ojén has been closed down by the regional government’s Sustainable Development office in Malaga for failing to comply with environmental and animal welfare regulations, and has been fined 131,000 euros.
An inspection in 2020 detected seven serious breaches of the rules, but due to the pandemic and the difficulties being experienced by businesses in the province, the Junta decided to allow them time to put things right, says José Antonio Víquez, the delegate for Sustainable Development. Now, however, the economic situation is better and the Eco Reserve is popular with visitors, but the problems have not been resolved. A further inspection on 10 February showed that some regulations are still being broken, so it was decided to close the reserve to the public.
Antonio Calvo, the head of the Eco Reserve says this is disproportionate and harsh and they intend to appeal against the closure and the fine. They have also requested an urgent meeting with Víquez and want to reopen as soon as possible, pointing out that as the closure is indefinite they have had to cancel visits by schools and family groups and suspend arrangements they had with local hotels for the holiday weekend at the end of this month and at Easter.
They say they have resolved most of the original charges against them, and with regard to the accusation of not having documentation for some animals, Calvo says that the Eco Reserve is committed to looking after orphaned or injured animals so there is no documentation for foxes or boars, for example, which are brought to them. They do, however, follow a very rigorous sanitary protocol in situations such as those.
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 in semi-liberty. The decision to close it to the public has been strongly criticised, especially on social media where many supporters are calling for it to be reopened as soon as possible.