More than 100 baby turtles reported stolen on Galapagos islands

Breeding programmes are helping restore the islands' tortoise populations

'They were all taken at once, 123 in all.

Giant turtles are emblematic of the Galapagos Islands. "It was a robbery", Ecuador lawmaker Washington Paredes confirmed to the AFP news agency over the phone Thursday.

According to the ministry, a total of 123 rare tortoises of Chelonoidis vicina and Chelonoidis guentheri species were stolen from a facility on Isabela Island, part of the larger Galapagos National Park.

Lumbering adult giant turtles are revered as a beloved symbol of the region's biodiversity and a reminder of how Charles Darwin conceived his theory of natural selection.

The Ministry of environment of Ecuador said that the center Arnaldo Tupiza on the Galapagos Islands had disappeared over a hundred giant elephant turtles.

Paredes complained that the breeding facility where the theft occurred was poorly protected, with no security cameras or light sensors.

In June, 26 adult turtles that had been smuggled to Peru were returned to the islands.

There are 12 species of Galapagos tortoise, one for each of the major islands in the archipelago, which was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.

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