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The 26 endangered tortoises from the Galapagos National Park were returned last June after being located in Peru. An investigation of trafficking rare fauna is still open.
Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment released a statement Monday updating the condition of the 26 Galapagos Island tortoises repatriated from Peru last June after they had been sold and trafficked into the neighboring country.
The Minister of Environment Marcelo Mata Guerrero visited the quarantine center on the Galapagos Islands National Park. Park director Jorge Carrion told Guerrero during the minister’s visit that of the 26 tortoises under observation, 18 pertain to the Isabela Island species and eight from San Cristobal.
The reptiles were seized during a road stop in April 2017 in Peru. At that time 29 of the endangered animals were found wrapped up in a cardboard box. Two had died in transit and one more died of natural causes later while in Peruvian custody.
"The repatriated tortoises are in the Galapagos Airforce Base #Galápagos under custody of the airforce during the investigations that the attorney general is doing to find those responsible for the trafficking of these specimens," Jorge Carrion
In a statement the Ministry of Environment said an investigation into the trafficking of endangered fauna from the national park that was also named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.
Guerrero also visited the Turtle Breeding Center that contains some 1,045 turtle species.
Ecuador’s state prosecutor’s office says the giant tortoises will not be able to return to their natural habitats until at least after the investigation is complete.
The Galapagos Park has eleven known species of giant tortoises that live throughout the various islands of the archipelago located about 1,000km off of Ecuador’s coast.
Because of the park’s rich biodiversity that still contains some 45,000 species it is considered a natural laboratory where scientist Charles Darwin developed his theory of natural selection.