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Giant tortoises making a comeback on Galapagos Islands

Giant tortoises making a comeback on Galapagos Islands

« This is a miraculous conservation success accomplished by the Galapagos National Park Service, » said James P. Gibbs.

October 28 at 4:09 PM
A population of endangered giant tortoises, which once had dropped to just over a dozen, has recovered on the Galapagos island of Española, a finding described in a study published Tuesday as “a true story of success and hope in conservation.”Some 40 years after the first tortoises born in captivity were reintroduced to the island by the Galapagos National Park Service, the Española giant tortoises are reproducing and helping restore native cacti by spreading seeds. The cacti had been nearly eliminated by goats brought to the island in the late 19th century.“The global population was down to just 15 tortoises by the 1960s. Now there are some 1,000 tortoises breeding on their own,” said James Gibbs, lead author of the paper. “It’s a rare example of how biologists and managers can collaborate to recover a species from the brink of extinction.”

Gibbs and his colleagues assessed the tortoise population using 40 years of data from tortoises marked and recaptured repeatedly on the Ecuadorean island.