Two century ago, the Galapagos archipelago were home to more than 200,000 huge tortoises; this day four species are extinct and also only 10% the the original number remain. The rescue and also eventual recovery of the turtle populations has been slow and also steady.

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The Problem

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The dramatic decrease of the Galapagos gigantic tortoises was due mainly to over-exploitation by whalers in the first half that the 19th century; they accumulated live tortoises through the hundreds because that food top top their long voyages. In an ext recent years, Galapagos tortoises have actually been and continue come be intimidated by predation and habitat destruction from invasive species, and increasing human-tortoise problems on the larger, human-inhabited islands. Two species co-exist top top Santa Cruz Island, which has actually the largest human population. A newly identified species, the east Santa Cruz giant tortoise has a small population (a couple of hundred) and is fairly unknown. The range of the larger population, the west Santa Cruz gigantic tortoise, overlaps through human-inhabited farmlands and also in recent years, the expanding population has started to arrive at the suburbs of the main town creating new conflicts. Both Santa Cruz varieties are critically endangered.

The Solution

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We are currently providing resources to assistance the huge Tortoise reconstruction Initiative. This is a collaborative project run by the Galapagos Conservancy, the Galapagos national Park Directorate, and also several global scientists. The team, led by Wacho Aguilera, aims to restore tortoise populations throughout the Archipelago to their historic distribution and number. ~ above Santa Cruz, we require to increase our understanding of the little-known eastern Santa Cruz tortoises. This will aid Wacho to notify conservation strategies for the recovery of this population.

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Us urgently require to likewise research and also mitigate human-tortoise conflicts and also interactions throughout the island. If the east Santa Cruz tortoises get in farmlands at times, the west Santa Cruz tortoises spend lot of their lives on personal land and their current appearance top top the suburbs of Puerto Ayora, whereby they conference dogs, eat garbage, and also have been sometimes hit by vehicles, is cause for concern.