Scientists Discover Rare Giant Tortoise in Galapagos

Since June 24, 2012, when Lonesome George, the final Pinta Island tortoise, passed away, there has not been much discussion on tortoises. However, on February 22, National Geographic published an article about the discovery of a tortoise thought nearly extinct.

Ruth Gowitzke   Staff Writer

Since June 24, 2012, when Lonesome George, the final Pinta Island tortoise, passed away, there has not been much discussion on tortoises. However, on February 22, National Geographic published an article about the discovery of a tortoise thought nearly extinct.

This article talked about Washington Tapia who, along with four other rangers, spotted a rare female Fernandina giant tortoise. The tortoise was spotted on Fernandina, which is the youngest of the Galapagos Islands. This species of tortoise was first registered in 1906, well over 100 years ago, and in 2017 was put on The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, meaning possibly extinct. The National Geographic further elaborated that Tapia and his team discovered this tortoise while searching for green patches on the lava flows of the island on Feb. 17. The tortoise was first spotted by Jeffrey Malaga, hidden among a patch of vegetation after seeing a tortoise bed, soil that had been pushed away, and clear foot prints in the dirt.

This discovery has given hope to those who have been trying to conserve and restore this population of tortoise. The director of the nonprofit Galapagos Conservancy’s Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative said, “For me it was the most important achievement of my life because I have been working on tortoise conservation for 30 years.”

This discovery, however, is not only important for the tortoises that are affected by extinction, but by other animals that are also facing extinction. This work may further increase the initiative to create conservation for those animals affected by extinction and to further enhance the research that is executed by those involved in the preservation of animals. This research and preservation can also help those people involved discover the causes of the extinction as well and find a solution or solutions to combat that problem. The Fernandina giant tortoise may be the first tortoise that has been discovered in a long time, but it will not be the last.

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