Peruvian police rescue rare Galapagos tortoises from traffickers

LIMA (Reuters) - Peruvian police rescued 27 baby Galapagos tortoises, a highly endangered species, from a group of traffickers trying to take them to Europe, authorities said on Wednesday.

The tortoises from Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands were found in a cardboard box in a bus traveling from northern Peru to Lima, according to The National Forest and Wildlife Service (Serfor).

The agency said 29 turtles were found but two had died due to the poor conditions on the trip. The surviving turtles would be repatriated to Ecuador, said Jessica Galvez-Durand, in charge of wildlife management at Serfor.

“Their value cannot be estimated as no sales are permitted of the few turtles that are remaining,” Galvez-Durand said.

The Galapagos tortoise is the largest in the world and can live for more than 100 years.

Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Caroline Stauffer Editing by Sandra Maler