Galapagos iguana smuggler arrested

2015-09-08 10:08
A pink iguana. (Ranger Diaries, Twitter)

A pink iguana. (Ranger Diaries, Twitter)

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Quito - A Mexican man has been detained in Ecuador for trying to leave the Galapagos Islands with 11 endangered iguanas in his luggage, authorities said on Monday.

The alleged trafficker, who authorities said had previously committed similar crimes in New Zealand, was trying to transport nine marine iguanas and two land iguanas, all endemic to the islands' fragile ecosystem.

The Ecuadoran Environment Ministry said in a statement that the man had intended to send the reptiles to Uganda "with the aid of other foreigners who had come to the islands on the pretext of tourism."

Stopped in the town of Puerto Ayora, on the island of Santa Cruz, the man, whose name was not released, was transferred to a mainland prison in Guayaquil.

Ecuadoran authorities are investigating his possible involvement in a global network of traffickers in protected species.

In 2013, a German man was sentenced to four years in prison for trying to take four iguanas out of Ecuador in his luggage.

The Galapagos Islands, isolated 1 500 km off the coast of Ecuador, are known for inspiring Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and are home to a large number of endemic species, animals that are only found there.

The archipelago has been classified a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979.

Read more on:    unesco  |  equador  |  galapagos islands  |  conservation

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