Galapagos Giant Tortoises Make a Comeback, Thanks to Innovative Conservation Strategies PDF Print E-mail


The Galapagos Islands’ giant tortoises are one of the world’s best examples of evolution. Scientists are pioneering new conservation strategies to save them from extinction and restore their habitat.

The Galapagos Islands are world-famous as a laboratory of biological evolution. Some 30% of the plants, 80% of the land birds and 97% of the reptiles on this remote archipelago are found nowhere else on Earth. Perhaps the most striking example is the islands’ iconic giant tortoise, which often lives to ages over 100 years in the wild. Multiple species of these mega-herbivores have evolved in response to conditions on the island or volcano where each lives, generating wide variation in shell shape and size.

Over the past 200 years, hunting and invasive species reduced giant tortoise populations by an estimated 90% destroying several species and pushing others to the brink of extinction, although a few populations on remote volcanoes remained abundant.

Now however, the tortoise dynasty is on the road to recovery, thanks to work by the Galapagos National Park Directorate, with critical support from nonprofits like the Galapagos Conservancy and advice from an international team of conservation scientists.

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