Giant tortoise saved
An academic study has found that the giant tortoise species native to the Galapagos island of Española – regarded as extinct in the 1960s – has staged an astonishing recovery, to the point where there is a self-sustaining population of more than 1,000. The tortoises, which can weigh up to 250kg and live for up to 200 years, had long struggled to survive, owing to the introduction in the 1905 of feral goats, which devastated the island’s ecosystem. By the 1960s, just 12 females and two males were left in the wild. “They were so rare they couldn’t find one another,” said Professor James Gibbs, one of the conservationists who carried out the study. “Many of the females had lichens growing on their backs, and fungi that indicated they hadn’t been mated for a very long time.” The species was saved by a decades-long breeding programme – and the culling of the goats.
From ‘The Week’