Mystery Surrounds Death of Valuable Aldabra Giant Tortoises in Exeter Woodland
Seven Aldabra giant tortoises, classified as vulnerable, were discovered deceased in Ashclyst Forest near Exeter, raising questions about their estimated £70,000 worth.
Speculations emerge that the tortoises might have been abandoned by smugglers, prompting a police investigation to identify owners and uncover the circumstances of their deaths.
Smuggling Suspicions and Expert Insights
Expert Imogen Hill, owner of Tortoise Hut in South Brent, Devon, suggests that the tortoises, each potentially worth £10,000 based on size, were too valuable to be abandoned alive.
Hill proposes the possibility of smuggling, emphasizing the unusual nature of having such a sizable private collection and dumping them.
Unusual and Disturbing Discovery
Residents express shock at the unusual discovery, recalling a similar incident in December 2021 when a giant tortoise was found in the same woodland.
Jasmine Scott and Claire Walker, local residents, share their surprise and describe the calm and well-maintained woodland, speculating on the motives behind such a bizarre incident.
Aldabra Tortoises and Conservation Status
Aldabra giant tortoises, native to the Aldabra atoll in the Seychelles, are distantly related to Galapagos giant tortoises and can live over 150 years.
Classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, they are found in wildlife parks and private collections across the UK.
Police Appeal for Information
Devon and Cornwall Police launch an appeal for information to unravel the circumstances behind the discovery and identify those responsible.
With suspicions of smuggling and the unusual nature of the incident, authorities aim to piece together the puzzle surrounding the untimely deaths of the Aldabra giant tortoises in Ashclyst Forest.