A member of a giant tortoise species once
thought extinct was recently spotted on a remote island in the
Galapagos. Scientists discovered the female adult tortoise,
commonly referred to as a Fernandina giant tortoise, off the island
of Fernandina. They believe she is well over 100 years old.
The group removed the tortoise from the island and brought her
to a customized breeding facility on Santa Cruz Island. The
scientists were part of a collaborative expedition funded by the
Park and an environmental group called Galapagos Conservancy.
According to The
Guardian, the Fernandina giant tortoise is on the endangered
species list and was thought to have gone extinct. The team
believes there are more endangered species of tortoises on the
island based on feces and tracks they uncovered, though exact
numbers remain elusive.
The last time a member of this species was spotted in the wild
was way back in 1906. Since then, scientists have discovered traces
of the giant tortoise on the island but were unable to spot one in
its natural habitat. If they can find more individuals, the
hope to breed them on Santa Cruz to boost population numbers.
“They will need more than one, but females may store sperm for
a long time,” Duke University’s Stuart Primm noted. “There
may be hope.”
Being the third largest island in the Galapagos, Fernandina is
host to the La Cumbre volcano, which remains highly active to this
day. In fact, experts believed that giant tortoises on the island
were killed off because of the recurring lava flows from the
almost blankets the island in its entirety.
There is no telling if scientists will discover more giant
tortoises in the years to come, but the recent sighting is
promising. The Galapagos islands, of course, are famous for their
diversity of wildlife and were labeled
a World Heritage Site in the late 1970s. Hopefully, the team will
uncover additional giant tortoises to help get the species back on
Source: FS – All – Ecology – News 2
Giant tortoise believed extinct for 100 years is rediscovered