Posted by: galapagosinc | June 23, 2010

New Tortoises for Galapagos Island

Rebecca Webster at E Magazine reports that within the last month, 39 giant tortoises were released on Pinta Island (one of the Galapagos Islands.)  This makes it the first time in 40 years that these tortoises have lived on Pinta Island.

The tortoise population declined at an accelerated pace with the settlement of the early island colonies in the 20th century. Their large weight (up to 660 lbs) and their long lifespan (up to 150 years) led them to be hunted for food until they were considered extinct. In 1971, scientists were shocked when they found one Pinta giant tortoise left. Removed in 1972, and named “Lonesome George,” this tortoise remains the last of its kind.

The Galapagos National Park has been successful over the years in breeding some of the giant tortoise subspecies and releasing them back in the wild.  As soon as they were placed on the island, the tortoises began to show their place as ecosystem engineers—foraging, feeding and even trying to mate.

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