The Ecuadorian prosecutor’s office announced on Monday that it was investigating an alleged hunt for giant tortoises in the Galapagos Islands, a fragile ecosystem listed as a World Heritage Site. The prosecution is investigating “suspicion of the hunting and killing of four giant tortoises in the Galapagos National Park wetland complex,” the prosecutor’s office said on Twitter.
The Ecuadorian unit specialized in crimes against the environment and nature (Uidmen) was responsible for collecting testimonies from national park agents and appointing experts to carry out necropsies on the turtles. The park management has filed a complaint for the death of the animals, said the Ministry of the Environment on its WhatsApp channel.
These four giant tortoises, whose species has not been specified by the ministry, would have been hunted in the wetlands of Isabela Island, located 1,000 km from the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. Hunting wild animals is punishable by up to three years in prison in Ecuador.
In 2019, a man who rammed a turtle and damaged its shell was fined $11,000. That same year, another driver had to pay over $15,000 for running over and killing an endemic Galapagos iguana.
A unique reserve in the world
With an area of 4,703 km2, Isabela Island is the largest of the archipelago, of which it constitutes 60% of the land surface. The Galapagos Archipelago (“turtles” in Spanish) is considered a biosphere reserve for its unique flora and fauna in the world. It was once home to 15 species of turtles, three of which went extinct centuries ago, according to the Galapagos National Park. In 2019, a turtle of the species Chelonoidis phantastica was discovered on the island, more than a hundred years after its supposed extinction.