While the planet is struggling to survive all our harmful behaviors, the loss of species is a real tragedy, to say the least.
A species gone extinct leads to the loss of others, and such an imbalance in nature can have disastrous consequences on the ecosystem.
The story of the tortoises on Galapagos is a moral one, but with a happy turnover of events.
After the great success of conservation and repopulation efforts, researchers have spotted a small group of baby tortoises on Pinzón Island in the Galapagos Islands, a species that has been very close to extinction not so long ago.
The turtles were first seen by researcher James Gibbs, a Professor of Vertebrate Conservation Biology and Associate Chair of the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York, who stated:
“I’m surprised the turtles have given us the opportunity to make up for our mistakes after so much time.”
After being almost destroyed by human activity, these recent births protect the turtles from becoming extinct.
In the mid-eighteenth century, the sailors that landed on the Pinzón Island unintentionally caused an environmental disaster.
Namely, they brought rats to the area, which quickly established themselves in the fragile ecosystem, and ate the eggs of various species, including tortoises.
This disrupted the natural order of the island’s ecosystem. The attacks from larger species, the destructive human activities, in combination with the rat invasion, made these tortoises an endangered species.
Yet, in the 1960s, when their population was reduced to 100-200, conservationists started doing their best to save the tortoise. They tried to save the remaining egg specimens on the island, and collected a hundred eggs and hatched them on another island.
After five years, they brought them back to Pinzón.
Yet, the rats were still a threat, so in 2012, Island Conservation, the Galapagos National Park Directorate, and other partners conducted a rat eradication campaign and eventually destroyed them all with the help of air-dropped rat poison.
“The incredible eradication of rats on this island, carried out by the park service and others, has created the opportunity for turtles to reproduce for the first time.”
In 2014, he and his team went on the island and found ten new hatchlings crawling across the path in the first part of the Island, a sign that the natural order in the ecosystem was finally restored.
Gibbs wrote that this also proved that hard work, support, dedication, and conservation efforts can effect positive change.
Before the team left, they found about 300 wild-born baby tortoises.
“This is the first time they’ve bred in the wild in more than a century. I’m sure there were a hundred times more hatchlings out there.”
The number is believed to be around 500 now, with all of the tortoises born and bred on the Island. Gibbs maintains that the island has become” an island in recovery” their findings ” provide confirmation of the good work of the Galapagos National Park Service and its many collaborators. “