Four Endangered Giant Tortoises In The Galápagos Islands Have Been Killed; Ecuadorian Authorities Are Searching For Suspects

Ecuadorian authorities are investigating the recent hunting and slaughter of four endangered Galápagos giant tortoises for their meat. The carcasses were found on Isabela, the largest island in the Galápagos archipelago.

Tragically, despite the fact that the killing of the rare tortoises has been illegal since 1933, the illicit wildlife meat trade continues. In September 2021, the remains of 15 Giant Tortoises from the same Chelonoidis guntheri subspecies were also found on the island of Isabela, reportedly also killed for their meat. Under Ecuadorian law, anyone found guilty of killing a giant tortoise faces up to three years in prison.

The Galápagos Conservancy, the only U.S.-based nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to the protection and restoration of the Galápagos Islands and its more than 2,000 species that are found nowhere else on earth, strongly condemns the poaching and eating of Giant Tortoises as an “environmental crime.”

The Conservancy and the Galápagos National Park Directorate announced nearly one year ago that they are working together on the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative, a collaborative effort to restore tortoise populations to their historical distribution and numbers across the Galápagos Islands.

“We trust in the management of the Galápagos National Park Directorate (GNPD), an organization that, in spite of incidents like these, works diligently to safeguard the biodiversity of the islands,” the Conservancy said in a statement posted on its website. “GNPD is currently awaiting the findings of the investigation, so that if the perpetrators are identified, the full force of the law is used to ensure that this crime is not left unpunished.”

There are 14 different species of giant Galápagos tortoise that are classified as either vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered or extinct. This recent poaching incident is particularly egregious as very few individuals of this subspecies remain in the wild.

“We must safeguard Giant Tortoises and the ecosystems they depend on. The Galápagos Archipelago is of worldwide interest due to its significance in the disciplines of biology, ecology, and evolutionary studies,”concluded the Conservancy. “Through contributing to Park-led initiatives, Galápagos Conservancy affirms its commitment to carrying out ongoing efforts to protect and rebuild the populations of these iconic species that are unmatched in the world,”

Despite living for between 80 and 120 years, sadly, the Galápagos giant tortoise population has been dwindling for years. There are now only an estimated 15,000 left of the 200,000 that were believed to be in existence in the 1800s.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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