Baby Tortoises Hatch on Galapagos Island After More Than a Century
The tortoise on the island were facing near extinction due to the rat predators that came to the island in 1960s.
« This discovery is testament to the dedication and hard work of the Galapagos National Park Service over the last 40 years in rescuing several tortoise species from the point of extinction and putting them back on the path to a strong, albeit slow but steady, recovery, » said researcher James Gibbs, who was among the first to see the hatchlings, Mashable reported.
This is the first time baby tortoises were sighted in the area since sailors landed on the island in the mid-18th century and rats aboard their ship ate eggs and tortoise hatchlings causing their near extinction.
Conservationists launched an effort to save the species since there were only 100 tortoises in 1960s. Unhatched eggs were collected and hatchlings were raised for five years so that they would be large enough not to be attacked by rats. A poison that was designed to attract only rats were scattered on the island in 2012, through a helicopter killing all the predators, the Telegraph reported.
« The incredible eradication of rats on this island, done by the park service and others, has created the opportunity for the tortoises to breed for the first time, » said Gibbs. « Given projection probabilities, I’m sure there were a hundred times more hatchlings out there. »
Around 300 tortoises were spotted in the island by Gibbs, and his team and he says that there are more than 500 estimated tortoises that are presently living on the island.