TOLIARA, MADAGASCAR — Madagascar officials have arrested three people in southwestern Madagascar for a case of animal poaching after finding over 10,000 tortoises cramped inside a house.
When authorities entered the house in Toliara, 9,888 of the radiated tortoises were alive and in poor condition, while 180 were dead.
Animal rescuers loaded the tortoises onto six trucks to transport to a wildlife facility. The process took several trips.
Radiated tortoises are an endangered species. There are about 3 million of them left due to the loss of forest land on the island, and animal poachers either sell locally as bushmeat or smuggle them overseas to Southeast Asia or China.
Although the tortoises were looked after by a veterinarian, a week later about 574 of them had died from either dehydration or infection.
Two men and a woman have been taken into custody. The men were found burying dead tortoises on the property when rescue team arrived.
According to Turtle Survival Alliance, the tortoises left will be kept in captivity to keep them safe and alive.
The rescuers think there’s a someone, or an organization behind the incident as they believe the house was just part part of a much larger operation, considering the vase number of tortoises that were poached.