Galápagos tortoises: 185 babies seized from smugglers
March 30, 2021 8:50 am
Customs officials in Ecuador discovered 185 baby tortoises packed inside a suitcase that was being sent from the Galápagos Islands to the mainland on Sunday.
The reptiles had been wrapped in plastic and were found during a routine inspection at the main airport on the island of Baltra.
Ten of them had died, officials said.
One of the biggest threats to Galápagos tortoises is illegal trading for animal collectors and exotic pet markets.
The tortoises seized at the airport on Baltra are thought to be less than three months old.
Officials combatting wildlife trafficking say hatchling-sized juveniles can fetch sums of more than $5,000 (£3,600) per animal.
It is believed the smugglers wrapped the tortoises in plastic to immobilise them but the X-ray machine’s operator at the airport nevertheless grew suspicious.
The suitcase had been posted at the airport by a transport firm and was said to contain “souvenirs”, a statement from the airport said.
No arrests have been made so far but employees of the transport firm who had checked in the suitcase were held for questioning, according to the statement.