153 tortoises saved by police officers!

153 tortoises saved by police officers!


At 02:00 am on June 3rd, 2009, after a joint action of the Regional Police Department – Rakovski and the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters – Plovdiv, 153 tortoises of the two species – Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni) and Iberian tortoise (Testudo graeca) were put up at Green Balkans’ Rescue Center. Most of the individuals belonged to the species Hermann’s tortoise.

The animals were collected by a Roma group from the Eastern Rhodope region and were caught when offered for sale in the town of Rakovski, District of Plovdiv.
So far the condition of the reptiles is stable. Veterinary specialists’ report and a description of the exact species composition and sex of the tortoises are to be developed. Today, when the Prosecutor’s Office prepares the whole relevant documentation, the veterinary specialists of the Rescue center will begin a general strengthening therapy and complete deparasitation of individuals. Most probably the tortoises will be kept at the Rescue Center until the penal proceedings against the infringers is finished, and will be then immediately released in the area, from which they were collected.

Both tortoise species are globally threatened species, included in the IUCN Red List under the following categories: T. graeca – vulnerable (VU A1cd - 1996), T. hermanni – low risk (LR/nt-1996). Both species are listed in Annex II of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention), Annex II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as well as Directive 92/43/EEC of 21.05.1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora. In the Bulgarian legislation the tortoises are included in Annex 3 of the Biological Diversity Act, and any collection, captivity, killing, and disturbance is subject to the Penalty Code of the Republic of Bulgaria.

We are thankful to the officers of the Regional Police Department in Rakovski, the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters in Plovdiv, and the Plovdiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office for their timely and competent reaction.

The information is published on the official website of District Police Directorate – Plovdiv at:

For further information about the state of the tortoises, please contact:
Ivaylo Klisurov
Manager of the Rescue Center
Tel: +359 42 622 401
Mobile: +359 886 57 00 52