According to the BBC, the prosecutors suspect that the four Galapagos giant tortoises were killed and devoured, and the Ecuadorian government has requested an investigation into their deaths.
The tortoises are enormous in size, occasionally weighing around 417 kg, and they have a lifespan of 100 years on average. Spanish explorers who went to the island made the initial discovery and gave it its name.
The animals were killed in an Isabela national park, a location notorious for similar incidents. In the same national park in 2021, 15 Sierra Negra giant tortoises were also discovered dead.
The investigators came to the conclusion that the tortoises were killed for their meat at that time, but they were unable to apprehend everyone engaged in the crime.
Although there is a sizable market for their flesh, killing endangered animals is against the law in Ecuador, and offenders face prison sentences of three years or more.
Recently, specialists have voiced their worries about the Galapagos tortoises. Researchers estimate that there are only 15,000 left today, compared to 200,000 in the 19th century.