POLICE are warning tourists not to buy animals while they are on holiday abroad after a rare tortoise was confiscated from a woman in the Matlock area.
The spur-thighed tortoise, which is also known as a Greek tortoise, was seized by local police, with the assistance of the National Wildlife Crime Unit, who executed a warrant at the woman’s home on May 1.
Officers were acting on information that the woman had illegally imported a tortoise back from Tunisia in her hand luggage through East Midlands airport.
The tortoise has the highest level of protection from export, import and sale as it is an endangered species.
It is an offence to export and import endangered species like this without proper documentation.
PC Emerson Buckingham, the wildlife crime officer for the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales said: “On this occasion, as the woman had bought the tortoise as a pet, she wasn’t prosecuted. However the animal was taken from her and will be kept in a sanctuary for the rest of its life.
“Had she imported it to sell or pass on then she would have been arrested and dealt with by the courts.”
Anyone who has any information about wildlife crime can contact PC Buckingham on the non-emergency number 101.