(Seychelles News Agency) – A police investigation has begun in Devon in the United Kingdom after the bodies of seven Aldabra giant tortoises were discovered in a forest, according to an article published yesterday in the British newspaper The Guardian.
Two of the tortoises were discovered on January 8 and a further five were found nearby on January 12.
This tortoise species, which is one of the largest in the world, is endemic to Aldabra, an atoll in Seychelles that is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The article states that the carcasses were found in the National Trust’s Ashclyst Forest; a 272-hectare woodland, one of the largest forests in Devon, north-east of Exeter. It is a large natural woodland pasture with commercial conifer plantations and rare wet woodland.
The article quoted a statement from the National Trust confirming the incident; “that sadly seven rare Aldabra giant tortoises have been discovered dead on National Trust land near Exeter over the past few days. The tortoises are not native to the UK. The incident is now being investigated by police and we are unable to comment further at this time.”
According to the article, the Devon and Cornwall police are currently appealing for witnesses to step forward in an effort to find out the exact circumstance of the incident and to identify those responsible.
Inspector Mark Arthus said “We would ask that if anyone knows anything, they get in touch. We would also like to hear from anyone who has recently purchased a giant tortoise in the area or knows of anyone who normally has a large number of tortoises but has fewer now.”
In fact, the article further states that “this is not the first time that a giant tortoise has been found in the woodland. In December 2021, Vale Vets Devon posted an appeal on its Facebook page for the owners of a giant tortoise that had been handed in to the Cullompton branch.”
The article also quotes a Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) report on the illegal trade in tortoises, titled Shell Shock that said it was “illegal in the UK to import or sell live wild-caught protected species of tortoises or products made from them without a permit for commercial purposes.”
“Breeders can sell only captive animals bred from parental stock in their care. New-born animals must be identified with a microdot and adults with a microchip or other appropriate method,” the report added.
The report says tortoises make “bad pets, explaining the body temperature, humidity and diet required by most species is ‘virtually impossible’ to replicate.”