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River of Sheep Flows Through Madrid

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Shepherds lead their sheep through the center of Madrid on Oct. 25. Daniel Ochoa de Olza / AP

In a defiant demonstration of their ancient grazing and migration rights, shepherds halted traffic in Madrid Sunday as they guided a flock of around 2,000 sheep through the streets of the Spanish capital.

For the past 22 autumns, shepherds have led herds through the city, exercising the right to seasonal livestock migration routes that existed before Madrid grew from a rural hamlet to the great city it is today. Increasingly, these routes have been threatened by urban sprawl.

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Sheep are led by shepherds through Madrid's city center on Oct. 25. Shepherds guided a flock of around 2,000 sheep through Madrid's streets in defense of ancient grazing, droving and migration rights, increasingly threatened by urban sprawl and modern agricultural practices. Francisco Seco / AP
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Shepherds lead their sheep through Madrid. Daniel Ochoa de Olza / AP
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A sheepdog is surrounded by a herd in the streets of Madrid. Francisco Seco / AP

Matt Nighswander and The Associated Press