Ecuadorian Environment Ministry officials rescued 20 caimans, 10 wild boars and two aquatic tortoises that were being held illegally in the coastal province of Esmeraldas, a source with the institution said Tuesday.

People living near the plot of land on which the animals were being held had contacted authorities and, after verifying the situation, the ministry told the owner of the land about the regulation prohibiting holding wild animals in captivity.

After failing to get the landowner to turn over the animals voluntarily, the ministry went to judicial authorities to get authorization to conduct a raid on the property, the source said.

During a two-day operation at the site, authorities found the animals being kept in mud pools and rescued them. They will later be released in environmental parks in the same province where park guards can protect them. EFE