Man charged over discovery of dead giant tortoises in Devon

Gary Priddle to appear in court in connection with investigation into discovery of giant tortoise bodies in Devon woodland

Tara Cobham
Tuesday 28 May 2024 19:50 BST
The Aldabra giant tortoises – classed as vulnerable by conservation groups – were found in Ashclyst Forest near Exeter
The Aldabra giant tortoises – classed as vulnerable by conservation groups – were found in Ashclyst Forest near Exeter (Devon & Cornwall Police)

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

Gary Priddle, 56, of Grecian Way, Exeter, will appear in Exeter Magistrates’ Court on Thursday facing charges brought under the Animal Welfare Act and Environmental Protection Act.

Devon and Cornwall Police said the charges related 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.

The force previously said they had been working with the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the RSPCA on the investigation.

Aldabra giant tortoises are classed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Together with their distantly related cousin, the Galapagos giant tortoise, they are the largest species of tortoise in the world. They can live for more than 150 years, with some having shells that reach more than a metre in length.

One charge Priddle will answer in court states: “Between 29 December 2023 and 2 January 2024 at Exeter in the county of Devon threw down, dropped or otherwise deposited litter, namely ten deceased Aldabra tortoises and left it in East Devon.”

The second charge states: “Between 23 and 29 December 2023 at Exeter in the county of Devon did not take such steps as were 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 in that due to not checking on the daily welfare and heating system relating to their care which failed and led to the animals’ death.”

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