By David Jackson
Biologists carrying out their annual tortoise survey of Almería and Murcia were surprised to see a huge increase in the number of animals in the Sierra Cabrera around Turre.
Proyecto Testudo is an annual census carried out under directions from Elche university and studies 12 breeding zones across the region.
Volunteers spent an afternoon combing the designated areas and reporting back on the number of specimens found. Biologists then examined the specimens found before releasing them.
The 2016 study reported that the species appears to be in excellent health, with a slight increase in numbers over last year.
But the Sierra Cabrera zone, just above the town of Turre, detected more than double the number of specimens found last year. The report said the reason was the ban on keeping spur-thighed tortoises as pets.