Monday, 24 August 2015

Galapagos and Beyond: Tortoise Population Recovery is a World-wide Effort

Giant Galapagos Land Tortoise
Our giant land-based endemic Galapagos Tortoises are a “must see” feature for most Galapagos visitors. Giant tortoises and the Galapagos Islands are, in many ways, synonymous, particularly when you consider that our islands are named in their honor. When the first explorers came to these islands and saw the hundreds of thousands of saddle back giant tortoises, they named the islands to reflect their discovery as the word “galapagos” means saddle in Spanish.

Tagus Cove Graffiti Reminds Us of Plundering Pirates

Of course, history now tells us that the same people who first came here and became so enamored, later destroyed the very tortoise population that intrigued them from the beginning. Pirates and other seafarers took tortoises by the hundreds, and even thousands, and threw them into the holds of their ships to eat, use for oil, and take home for trading. Many of the tortoises died on their journey, only to be thrown back into the sea.  Mankind also was a further catalyst for the reduction and extinction of the giant tortoise population when we introduced non-endemic species such as goats and rats to the islands. These predators soon attacked and ate the hatching tortoises.