The authorities of Ecuador’s airport and the Galapagos National Reserve discovered in a suitcase about 185 turtles, ten of them dead, that their bearer intended to transport them from the archipelago to the mainland, the Ecuadorian Environment Ministry said yesterday.
The ministry stated on Twitter that “185 turtles were discovered in a bag at Palatra airport, which were being transported to the Ecuadorian mainland.”
The Galapagos Islands are located 1,000 kilometers off the Ecuadorian coast, and feature unique flora and fauna.
The ministry indicated that the discovery of the turtles took place “during a routine inspection” between Galapagos airport and Papua New Guinea, and that the police and public prosecutors “were taking the necessary measures”, without giving further details.
“The age of turtles does not exceed three months and their shell is very small,” Galapagos airport said in a statement, which makes it difficult to determine which site these turtles belong to, as the species differ according to the island from which they come.
The turtles were wrapped in plastic bags, killing ten of them, according to the statement.
Environment Minister Marcelo Mata condemned in a tweet on “these crimes against the animal environment and natural heritage of Ecuadorians” and said that he is convinced that this act “will be punished with all the strictness stipulated in the legislation in force.”
The illegal trade in wildlife is a crime punishable under Ecuadorian law with a prison term of between one and three years.
This archipelago, which served as a natural laboratory for the English scientist Charles Darwin for his theory on the evolution of species, takes its name from the giant turtles endemic to it.
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