The Galapagos Conservancy has reported that 15 giant Galapagos tortoises were slaughtered in the wild on Isabela Island earlier this month. According
The Galapagos Conservancy has reported that 15 giant Galapagos tortoises were slaughtered in the wild on Isabela Island earlier this month. According to the Conservancy, the 15 tortoises were discovered by Galápagos National Park Directorate rangers while out on patrol in the area of the Sierra Negra Volcano. The rangers were only able to determine that two of the chelonians were recently killed, the timeline for the death of the remaining 13 was undetermined.
“That tortoises are still killed and trafficked from the Galápagos comes as a surprise to many. The highly imperiled state of tortoises today on southern Isabela Island, caused by the historic destruction of tortoise populations by whalers and early colonists, has been difficult to reverse because poaching continues,” the Conservancy wrote on its website.
“While only a few local residents still kill tortoises, local demand for tortoise meat and other tortoise products has escalated. With few tortoises remaining on the primary volcano affected – Sierra Negra, which once hosted the largest of all populations in Galápagos – this ongoing killing poses a major threat to the species’ continued existence.”
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The deaths of the tortoises comes on the heels of the confiscation of 185 smaller tortoises in March. These reptiles were found in a suitcase at the Baltra Island airport, where they were scheduled to be flown and trafficked on the mainland. In 2018, 123 juveniles were stolen from the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center on Isabela Island and in 2017, 29 were stolen from the same facility. These tortoises were recovered in Peru.