Goat brigades help battle Portugal’s deadly wildfires
Fernando Moura and his herd may not look like heroes but the Portuguese farmer and his 370 goats are the latest recruits in the country’s battle against summer forest fires.
Hoping to contain wildfires that threaten its mountains each year, Portugal’s government has hired goats to munch through undergrowth and create natural, cost-effective fire barriers.
Soaring temperatures often spark blazes across Portugal’s mountain ranges, forcing authorities to dispatch hundreds of firefighters, soldiers and water-dumping aircraft.
More than 100 people were killed in the country’s wildfires last year, prompting criticism from firefighters over a lack of government coordination.
Moura’s four-legged brigade are part of a pilot project, started earlier this year, to clear combustible scrubland from some of Portugal’s major mountain ranges.
Authorities hope the firefighting goats will help stop blazes spreading from one forest to another and better contain any fires.
For the next five years, Moura and his goats have one mission – to roam across the slopes of the central Serra da Estrela range and clear around 50 hectares of scrubland to create the natural firewalls.
Around 40 goat herders are taking part in the initiative, which officials say a full evaluation will come at the end of its five-year run.