Nine people including one young boy have been arrested on suspicion of hunting and selling tortoises in the self-declared republic of Somaliland.

Somaliland’s environment minister. Shukri Hajji Ismail told reporters six tortoises were rescued.

Some of the tortoises were so large that they were too heavy to carry and were being looked after at the ministry, according to privately-owned Radio Risala. “Nine people were arrested,” he said. “One of them is a young boy who was sent to collect the money.

The rest are men.

“We have six tortoises at the ministry now. Some of them are so big that they could not be carried by grown men.

“People seem convinced that the bigger the tortoise, the better the price. We have not caught any potential buyers…

“We understand there are people in this world who eat tortoises, frogs and snakes.”

Last month, several Somali regional authorities warned against the hunting of tortoise amid a rising demand for the reptiles in the country, reports BBC.

The tortoise is one of the world’s most endangered animals.

Image Credits: Tortoise tortoisecom