Tema: masacre de lleons marins a Galápagos

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Sea lions massacred in Galapagos

Ecuadorean officials are investigating the slaughter
of 53 sea lions from the Galapagos Islands nature
reserve, which were found with their heads caved in.

The dead animals included 13 pups, 25 youngsters, nine
males and six females.

Galapagos National Park official Victor Carrion told
AFP news agency that each was killed by "a strong blow
from someone", though the motive is unknown.

They had not been injured in any other way, he said,
discounting the notion they had been killed for their

The animals were found in a state of decomposition on
Pinta island, part of the archipelago which lies about
1,000km (600 miles) off the coast of Ecuador in the
Pacific Ocean.

The Galapagos sea lions have no natural predators on
land and generally do not fear humans.

Mr Carrion said no other dead animals had been
discovered, but that patrols on the other islands
would be increased.

He added that the sea lions were a vital link in the
island's food chain and therefore any threat to them
is a threat to the whole eco-system.

Sea lions are sometimes hunted for their skin, or the
teeth and genitals of the male animals are removed for
use as a supposed aphrodisiac in Chinese medicine.

In 2001 poachers killed 35 male sea lions in the
archipelago, removing their genitals and teeth.

However, according to Mr Carrion none of the animals
killed in this latest attack had been mutilated and no
cuts were found on their skin or limbs.

"It was a massacre whose motives the prosecutor's
office must clarify," Mr Carrion told AFP.

The Galapagos Islands are known throughout the world
as a home to unique flora and fauna, including exotic
birds, marine iguana and giant tortoises.

The wildlife was the inspiration for British
naturalist Charles Darwin's theory of natural

The islands were the first place on the planet
officially designated as a World Heritage site, but
last year the UN Environment, Scientific and Cultural
Organisation (Unesco), which administers the list of
sites, declared the Galapagos "in danger".

Experts said the 19 islands and surrounding ocean were
under threat from "invasive species", increased
tourism and growing immigration.

In a statement, the organisation said international
interest in the islands - which are Ecuador's most
popular tourist attraction - was contributing to their
gradual decline.