April 13, 2024

Specialist wildlife police in eastern Spain have rescued an exotic list of endangered animals over the past year, including a pair of Nile crocodiles, an African spurred tortoise weighing 25kg and a two-metre Burmese python.

The Seprona division of the Guardia Civil said in a statement on Sunday that its officers had recovered “numerous examples” of species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora during 2023.

“The two Nile crocodiles, which each measured approximately two metres, were collected by officers from a private estate in El Moralet in Alicante province last August,” the statement said, adding the owner did not have an import certificate nor one for breeding in captivity.

“At the end of 2023, a two-metre long Burmese python was found in Alicante’s city centre. The African spurred tortoise, which weighed around 25kg, had been abandoned in the Sierra de Oltá mountains in Calpe.”

Among the other animals Seprona confiscated were a burrowing parrot, which is native to Patagonia, and a Venezuelan blood-eared parakeet.

A snake seized by Seprona. Photograph: Guardia Civil

“The rescued animals were taken to different rehabilitation centres, lodges and parks where specialists were able to evaluate their condition and provide the required treatment,” the statement said. “These facilities also offer the food, space and care needed to ensure each of the species can enjoy an optimal quality of life.”

The Guardia Civil has launched a number of investigations to find the owners and determine whether they had the necessary paperwork for the animals.

“If the owners cannot provide legitimate provenance or certificates permitting them to breed animals in captivity, they will face fines of up to €6,000 [£5,133] and could face charges relating to the protection of wild flora and fauna,” the statement said.

Seprona officers recovered dozens of exotic animals, including two caimans, three pythons, eight iguanas and 46 giant African snails, in March 2022 after discovering a private zoo on the Canary island of Gran Canaria.

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Officers found 139 animals at the property, of which 118 were classed as invasive species and 21 as dangerous.

The Guardia Civil said in a statement at the time: “Among the species seized were a ball python, two Burmese pythons, a dwarf caiman, two bearded dragons, two Greek tortoises, 34 crayfish, a leopard gecko, 46 giant African snails, seven snakes, a bullfrog, a long-necked turtle, eight iguanas, a spectacled caiman, 23 red-eared terrapins, 13 blue-tongued skinks, and three African spurred tortoises.”

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