Dozens of endangered tortoises rescued in Peru

(Photo: SERFOR Peru)

PIURA, Peru (NBC News) - The government of Peru says at least 29 endangered Galapagos tortoises were rescued as they were about to be taken to Europe to be sold.

Peru's National Forest and Wildlife Service announced the seizure of the tortoises in a news release. The black-footed tortoises were found wrapped in tape inside a box on board a bus. Two of the reptiles died before the rescue.

The rest were taken to a zoo, where they received medical attention from veterinarians.

The wildlife agency says it is investigating the driver of the bus and the transport company. The tortoises will be returned to Ecuador, from where they came.

There's a lucrative trade in wild animals, which uses Peru as a route to the black market in Europe.

The World Economic Forum says illegal wildlife trade is one of the organized crime activities that raises the most money.

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