by NY Times staff
Giant Galápagos tortoises, the world’s biggest, have had it rough. Thanks to pirates and whalers eating them and to non-native species like goats destroying their habitat, four of the 14 documented species are extinct. Most recently, the Pinta species vanished with the 2012 death of Lonesome George, after decades of attempts to get him to reproduce.
But the tortoises emerging from the crates above represent a milestone in tortoise restoration efforts. They are among 201 tortoises recently released onto Santa Fe Island, which lost its tortoise species a century and a half ago.
We wanted to do this for a long time,” said Linda Cayot, the science adviser for the Galápagos Conservancy, which, in collaboration with the Galapagos National Park Directorate, runs the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative. It wasn’t easy. Without any Santa Fe tortoises left (nobody alive now has actually seen them – their existence is known mainly from whalers’ logbooks and museum-preserved bone fragments), conservationists turned to a close genetic relative: tortoises from Española Island…
(read more: NY Times – Science)
photograph by Galapagos Conservancy
JET SETTERS! (without the jets)