PIURA, Peru (CBS4) – Nearly 30 endangered Galapagos tortoises from Ecuador were saved in northern Peru before smugglers took them to Europe to be sold, according to that country’s National Forest and Wildlife Service.
The Black-Footed Tortoises, which had been wrapped in tape and plastic wrap, were found aboard a bus inside a box.
Two tortoises died, according to the national service.
The tortoises were immediately taken to a zoo in Pirua, where vets gave them medical attention. They’ll be reintroduced to the wild at an appropriate time.
Both the driver and the transport company he works for are being investigated.
Giant tortoises can reach 500 pounds, and are among the famous creatures closely studied by 19th Century British naturalist Charles Darwin in the Galapagos Islands.
According to the World Economic Forum, illegal wildlife trade is one of the most profitable organized crime activities.