Guardia Civil rescue protected animals in Alicante province

by Lorraine Williamson
protected animals

The Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA) of the Guardia Civil has undertaken numerous operations rescuing protected animals in the province of Alicante over the past year. These rescued animals fall under the purview of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

Among the animals rescued are two Nile crocodiles, an African spurred tortoise weighing 25 kilograms, and a 2-metre-long Burmese python.

Crocodiles, parrots, python and a tortoise

The two Nile crocodiles, each approximately two metres in length, were retrieved by agents last August from a private estate in Partida El Moralet, Alicante. The owner lacked the corresponding import certificate and certificate for captive breeding.

In two separate incidents in October, a burrowing parrot (Cyanoliseus patagonus) and a red-tailed Venezuelan parakeet (Pyrrhura hoematotis) were rescued. This was thanks to citizen reports indicating the animals were loose in public areas.

Furthermore, at the end of 2023, a 2-metre-long Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus) was discovered in the urban area of Alicante. Lastly, a 25-kilogram African spurred tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata) was found abandoned in Sierra de Oltá, Calpe.

Protected animals relocated to recovery centres

The rescued animals were relocated to various recovery centres, shelters, and animal parks equipped with appropriate facilities. There, specialists evaluated their health and provided necessary treatment for their recovery, along with the required food, space, and care. This was tailored to each species’ needs.

The Guardia Civil initiated an investigation into these incidents to locate the owners and commence proceedings against them for potential violations of the Smuggling Suppression Act. Failure to prove the animals’ legitimate origin or, in the case of captive breeding, the required permits, could result in administrative fines of up to €6,000, or even criminal charges related to the protection of wild flora and fauna.

Abandoned turtle species

In addition, this month, agents launched several inquiries to locate those responsible for abandoning 30 specimens of various turtle species. These include the following;

  • Marginated tortoise (Testudo marginata)
  • Russian tortoise (Testudo horsfieldii)
  • Snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

These turtles were abandoned in natural habitats, and reported by concerned citizens.


SEPRONA of the Guardia Civil routinely conducts operations concerning protected species. A significant portion of these operations are initiated based on citizen cooperation, reporting escaped or abandoned animals or those living in inappropriate conditions. At times, other authorities request SEPRONA’s involvement to verify the legality of animal possession.

Among SEPRONA’s missions is ensuring the conservation of flora and fauna species. To accomplish this, continuous efforts are made to combat the illegal trade of species protected by the CITES convention. Citizen collaboration, as well as coordination with other authorities, is crucial for the successful execution of this mission.

Special acknowledgment is due to the Santa Faz Wildlife Recovery Centre for their collaboration in receiving abandoned protected species. Moreover they are preventing their release into unprepared natural environments, thereby averting risks to both their species and native fauna.

Also read: Illegal trafficking of large felids

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