Hello, world. How about we start the week off with a piece of good news? A piece of really good news indeed…
In the last century, in the Galapagos island of Pinzón, tortoises have been scarce. So much in fact, that the Galapagos tortoises were considered among the most endangered animals in the island. But now, after over 100 years during which no baby tortoise was seen, a small group of them have finally been spotted.
The youngsters are a ray of hope for the future of the endangered species after they were almost extinct from the interference of human beings.
The tortoises’ path to near-extinction started back in the mid 18th century after a ship sailed on the beach. On the ship, a large number of rats were aboard and after it docked, the rats flooded the beach and made a home on the fragile ecosystem of the island. This offset an environmental catastrophe after the rats began preying on the small hatchlings and baby tortoises, who up until then had not had many natural predators.
The presence of the rats on the island was actually so severe that during the next few decades, you could not find a single baby tortoise on the island, leading to the entire species becoming nearly extinct.
In the 1960s only 100 tortoises in total were on the island, which is when a group of conservationists took on the mission to try and save them. They gathered all the remaining unhatched eggs they could find and incubated them on another island, where they were raised long enough for the rats to no longer pose them a threat. Even though this proved to be successful, the rats still posed a threat to the eggs already on the island, which is why in 2012, a group of biologists distributed poison which only targetted rats, and the island was finally declared rat-free.
Now, there are about 500 tortoises on the island, studies suggest, and according to researcher James Gibbs who spotted 300 of them in December, at least 10 of them are hatchlings. Speaking to The Dodo, Gibbs said: “I’m amazed that the tortoises gave us the opportunity to make up for our mistakes after so long.”