United Kingdom Man Accused Of Trafficking In Protected Tortoises Species

tortoise trafficking

COMMENTARY | A man from the United Kingdom is accused of illegal tortoise trafficking. Graham Martin, 36, has been charged with multiple counts of trading protected tortoise species for commercial gain. The Backnell resident allegedly sold both African Spur-Thighed Sulcatas and Hermann’s tortoises.

Graham Martin allegedly illegally sold protected tortoise species from for more than a year beginning in 2011, Get Bracknell reports. Martine was released on bail and has a court date scheduled for early March. The Thames Valley Police website notes.

Taking the tortoise from the wild when so many tortoises need adoption is not just illegal, but cruel. Captive bred tortoises from reputable breeders readily exist. I have very little experience with Hermann’s but have rescued three of the gentle giants also known as Sulcatas. The number of abandoned Sulcatas in need of forever homes is saddening.

Although I agree Sulcatas found at pet stores are super adorable when you hold them in the palm of your hand, they grow big – very, very, big. A 100-pound tortoise is not the exception, it is the norm. Far too many folks purchase a Sulcata from a pet store or shady breeder, and have no idea what to expect or how to care for the tortoise properly.

Knowledge about both the breeder and the tortoise species is tantamount to the reptile’s very survival. The first Sulcata that ever came into our home was from a large American reptile store. The poor little guy arrived with his eyes closed, a sign that he was already dehydrated. Even with advice and care from a reptile vet (not easy to find in many areas) Hondo was already too ill when he arrived to be nursed back to health.

sulcata breeders

When we were fortunate enough to stumble across the Tortoise Forum online, we found multiple other tortoise horror stories from people who had purchase a tortoise from the same “puppy mill” style retailer. If you truly can give long term care for one of the massive tortoises, you should thoroughly research the breeder on the Tortoise Forum or a similar website.

After our heartbreaking experience with Hondo, we have rescued three Sulcatas. We would love to help more, but space and ultimately funds are an issue. Living in a region where the tortoises cannot live outside year around has prompted at least a $60 per week fresh veggies bill.

spur thighed tortoise

Sulcatas, when cared for properly, will live to be around 100 years old, another important factor to consider when thinking about buying or rescuing one of these gentle giants. Sulcatas have very specific temperature and humidity needs, failing to create a habitat that achieves these goals will quickly impact the reptile’s health.


The man accused of illegally trading protected tortoises further jeopardizes the chances for the reptiles to keep their species alive in their native habitat. Taking care of these beautiful creatures can be a very rewarding experience, but their needs should come first and tortoises should never be taken from the wild.

[Featured Image Via: Shutterstock.com]

[Secondary Images Via: Brea Blair]