Galapagos Ecological Airport reported the illegal smuggling of 185 Galapagos. The smugglers trapped the baby tortoises in plastic in a suitcase. They were in a very poor condition. Luckily, most of them have survived.
Last Sunday, the airport authorities spotted the Galapagos baby tortoises. It happened when a red suitcase went through the X-ray machine at the security check. As per the custom declarations, the suitcase was carrying “souvenirs”. Instead, it was full of tortoise hatchlings.
The police officer responsible for getting customs clearance has been taken in custody. Expectedly, the authorities would charge him with three years in prison.
The hatchlings were on their way to the port city of Guayaquil, Ecuador, said the authorities. 10 of them had died when authorities opened the suitcase. The authorities sent the surviving tortoises to Fausto LLerena Tortoise Center. It is on Santa Cruz Island. “5 more hatchlings passed away day after they were seized”, said Marcelo Mata, Ecuador’s Environment Minister.
The Galapagos Conservancy reported that majority of the hatchlings were ranging to be 1 to 6 months old.
In a statement from the Director of Conservation of Galapagos Conservancy’s, Wacho Tapia states, “the young tortoises were found in dreadful condition and appear to be extremely underweight”. Additionally, he said, “we are in the process of collecting important data, including size and weight, for each tortoise to better assess its health condition”.
Ecuador treasures Galapagos as country’s precious wild heritage. Therefore, this attempt of smuggling them is a threat to their wildlife.
The Giant Galapagos species is the largest living species of tortoises. Moreover, they exist only in Galapagos. Thus, the responsibility of protecting their population from external threats is state’s utmost priority.
Moreover, the smugglers stole the baby tortoises from their nests in the wild, as per sources. The conservancy has not reported a robbery in any of the Zoos and shelter.