185 turtles found in suitcase at Galapagos airport

A turtle in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, March 10, 2021. – Daniela Brik / EFE / SIPA

It is by chance that Ecuador uncovered trafficking in protected animals. Representatives of the airport and the Galapagos National Park discovered in a suitcase around 185 turtle specimens that were to be transported from the archipelago to the mainland, the Ecuadorian Environment Ministry reported on Sunday.

The ministry said the discovery took place “during a routine inspection” at Baltra airport in the Galapagos and that police and prosecutors “are taking action”, without giving further details. The Minister of the Environment Marcelo Mata for his part denounced in a tweet “these crimes against the fauna and the natural heritage of Ecuadorians” and said he was convinced that these facts “will be punished with all the rigor provided for by the regulations in force ”. Illegal wildlife trafficking is a crime punishable by one to three years in prison according to the law of the country.

Darwin’s natural laboratory

Located 1,000 km from the Ecuadorian coast, the Galapagos Islands have unique flora and fauna. The archipelago, which served as a natural laboratory for English scientist Charles Darwin, takes its name from the giant tortoises that live there. They arrived three to four million years ago in this volcanic region of the Pacific. Scientists believe that ocean currents dispersed the turtles on the islands, giving rise to 15 different species, three of which are now officially extinct, each adapted to its own territory.

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