POLICE are investigating reports of several deceased giant tortoises being found in the Mid Devon area and are appealing for anyone with any information to come forward.

Enquiries are under way to identify the owners and establish the circumstances that led to the animals being disposed of.

Two bodies were found in a wooded area roughly north-east of Exeter on Monday, January 8 and a further five were found nearby on Friday, January 12.

At this time, they are understood to be Aldabra giant tortoises.

Police are investigating the circumstances given the unusual type of incident and the protected status of the animals.

Officers are appealing to the public to identify further lines of enquiry that may assist in determining the animals’ origin and assist in the investigation of potential criminal offences.

Inspector Mark Arthurs said: “We are appealing to members of the public for information to try to establish the circumstances around this discovery and to identify those responsible. We would ask that if anyone knows anything, they get in touch.

“We would also like to hear from anyone who has recently purchased a giant tortoise in the area or knows of anyone who normally has a large number of tortoises but has fewer now.”

If you have any information that could help with enquiries, please contact police via the Force website here or by calling 101 quoting 50240006127.

Alternatively, independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously online at: Crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling freephone 0800 555111.