The Ecuadorian authorities is investigating the deaths of 4 Galápagos large tortoises they believe had been hunted and eaten, according to the BBC. An environmental crimes unit is at present interviewing nationwide park brokers whereas postmortems on the reptiles are being carried out.
The animal carcasses had been found on Isabela, the biggest of the Gálapagos Islands. The area was famously visited by English naturalist Charles Darwin, whose evolutionary research within the 1800s made the enormous tortoises, and lots of different native species, world-renowned.
“As I used to be strolling alongside I met two massive tortoises, every of which should have weighed at the least 2 hundred kilos: one was consuming a chunk of cactus, and as I approached, it stared at me and slowly stalked away; the opposite gave a deep hiss, and drew in its head,” wrote Darwin at the time.
Whereas killing Galápagos large tortoises has been unlawful since 1933 and carries a jail sentence of as much as three years, the inhabitants has nonetheless drastically dwindled. Solely about 15,000 of the enormous tortoises stay alive right now — a pittance in distinction to the 200,000 within the 1800s.
Darwin himself, who transported 30 from the Galápagos to Polynesia aboard the HMS Beagle, noticed crew members devour most of his cargo throughout their voyage. Tortoises had been certainly as soon as thought of a delicacy, and seem like hunted for his or her flesh to this present day.
Park rangers found the stays of 15 Sierra Negra large tortoises in September 2021 in the identical park yielding the most recent 4 carcasses, according to WION. Proof on the time equally urged they had been hunted for his or her meat, whereas these concerned had been by no means caught.
The World Wildlife Fund says large tortoises are threatened by comparatively newly launched species together with canine and cats that prey on the younger, and cattle power them to compete for vegetation. Poaching, nonetheless, continues to be an enormous menace, as tortoise meat is offered on the black market.