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Man charged with discovery of dead giant tortoises in Devon

A man has been charged over the deaths of 10 giant tortoises whose bodies were discovered in a forest in Devon.

Gary Priddle (56), of Grecian Way, Exeter, will appear at Exeter Magistrates’ Court on Thursday on charges under the Animal Welfare Act and the Environment Protection Act.

Devon and Cornwall Police said the charges relate to the care and welfare of 10 Aldabra tortoises and the disposal of their bodies in Ashclyst Forest between December 29, 2023 and January 2, 2024.

Officers have previously said they were cooperating with the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the RSPCA as part of the investigation.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified Aldabra giant tortoises as vulnerable.

Together with their distant cousin, the Galapagos giant tortoise, they are the largest tortoise species in the world. They can live for over 150 years, and some have shells over a meter long.

One of the charges to which Priddle will answer in court is: “Between December 29, 2023 and January 2, 2024, at Exeter, Devon, he threw away, dropped or otherwise deposited rubbish, namely ten deceased Aldabra tortoises, and left behind them in East Devon.”

The second charge states: ‘On December 23-29, 2023, at Exeter, Devon, you failed to take steps that would be reasonable in all the circumstances to ensure that the needs of an animal for which you were responsible, namely ten Aldabra tortoises, were met to the extent required by good practice, including due to the failure to implement a daily welfare and heating system in their care, which failed and led to the death of the animals.”