185 tortoises discovered wrapped in cling film in suitcase in Ecuador

185 tortoises are discovered wrapped in cling film inside a suitcase – with ten of them dead – by customs officials in Ecuador

  • 185 endangered baby tortoises found in suitcase at a Galapagos Islands airport
  • Staff at the Galapagos Ecological Airport intercepted a case with ‘irregularities’
  • The baby tortoises had been individually covered tightly with plastic wrapping

Security officials at an airport on the Galapagos Islands have discovered 185 endangered baby tortoises hidden inside a suitcase.

Staff intercepted the suitcase as Galapagos Ecological Airport on the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, yesterday.

Ten of the baby tortoises, which are listed as threatened on the IUCN’s Red List of Endangered Species, had died by the time security officials opened the suitcase. 

In a statement, the Galapagos Ecological Airport said: ‘185 tortoises that were destined for the city of Guayaquil were intercepted by airport staff who noticed irregularities in a suitcase that supposedly contained ‘souvenirs’ from the island.’

Security officials at Galapagos Ecological Airport on the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, discovered 185 endangered baby tortoises hidden inside a suitcase

10 of the baby tortoises, which are listed as threatened on the IUCN’s Red List of Endangered Species, had died by the time security officials had opened the briefcase

The baby tortoises from the Galapagos Islands are the largest living species of tortoise in the world, growing to weigh up to 919lbs and can live for over 100 years.

The staff who intercepted the tortoises found that the animals had been covered in plastic wrapping, which led to 10 of them having died. 

The airport added: ‘We have made no arrests yet and are currently waiting for the national police to arrive and begin their investigation into the incident.’ 

The Galapagos Islands are home to numerous unique species and were made famous by Charles Darwin who studied the islands extensively.

Darwin developed many of his ideas relating to evolution based on the fauna and flora he studied on the volcanic archipelago that is made up of 18 main islands and 3 smaller islands.

The staff who intercepted the tortoises found that the animals had been covered in plastic wrapping, which led to 10 of them having died

Trafficking animals and plants from the Galapagos Islands is a crime punishable by a prison sentence between one and three years and an investigation into the incident is now underway

Marcelo Mata, the Ecuadorian Environment Minister, responded to the incident saying: ‘This is a crime against Ecuador’s natural heritage.’

Mata added that he hopes: ‘Those responsible will be punished in accordance with current regulations.’

Trafficking animals and plants from the Galapagos Islands is a crime punishable by a prison sentence between one and three years.

Scientists believe that ocean currents deposited the ancestors of the 185 Galapagos Tortoise on the islands three to four million years ago.

The tortoises then evolved into 15 different species, three of which are now extinct.

The investigation is ongoing.

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