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Prioritizing Conservation: Releasing the Giant Tortoises

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Santa Cruz Western Tour

Why is conservation vital for us?

Our daily goal is Galapagos conservation to preserve tourism, one of the archipelago’s primary income sources. Our incentive increases threefold when considering the islands’ biological significance. Ultimately, visitors will have a better time seeing the islands if they are better conserved, allowing more natural animals to flourish. There is no way to quantify the worth of nature in its purest form. Because of this, on our Santa Cruz II cruise, we make every effort to minimize our environmental impact wherever we go. We do this by ensuring we adhere to all international sustainability requirements and being mindful watchers and enthusiastic supporters.

Galapagos conservation: Release of the Giant Tortoises

Galapagos conservation is crucial for protecting the island’s delicate ecosystem and most endangered species. It is a priority for the residents and the travel businesses that operate there. Significantly, 190 giant tortoises born and grown in captivity as part of the Galapagos National Park have been released into the wild. With their herbivorous habits, they will start repopulating Santa Fe Island, where they went extinct 150 years ago, and influencing their ecology.

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How were they released into their natural habitat?

The Galapagos giant tortoises are real treasures, and Galapagos conservation efforts are essential to preserve them.
The Galapagos giant tortoises are real treasures, and Galapagos conservation efforts are essential to preserve them.

The Galapagos National Park and the Galapagos Conservancy NGO coordinated an expedition that resulted in the release of the 4- and 5-year-old giant tortoises on April 17. A group of 26 people assisted in transferring the 190 turtles with the help of many volunteers. Before their release into the wild, the animals were subjected to veterinary inspections and quarantine procedures to ensure optimal health levels.

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They started their journey with a two-hour boat ride from Santa Cruz Island to Santa Fe. The younger tortoises were transported to the heart of their new home, a section of the island about 5 km offshore, where they were first housed in separate metal cages on the boat and then placed in sacks. Each individual was responsible for gently carrying seven to eight turtles along a narrow, gravel path on foot. The tortoises were taken out of their bags and comfortably settled into their native environment following the two-hour stroll. The animals quickly established themselves as a source of food and shelter, according to park rangers, indicating that they adapted to their new environment.

A Threatened Species

Galapagos conservation: Giant tortoise walking and eating.
Galapagos conservation: Giant tortoise walking and eating.

The species that was discharged on Santa Fe Island belongs to the Chelonoidis nigra group and is known as Chelonoidis hoodensis. The latter species is more widely recognized as the Big15 must-see Galapagos giant tortoise. Despite being well-known for its enormous size, the hoodensis is the smallest of the giant tortoises of the Galapagos. It is indigenous to the island of Española. Although the numbers of this species were alarmingly low a few years ago, the breeding program’s efforts have helped turn around this concerning figure.

These breeding initiatives, supported by the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Galapagos National Park, have eventually increased the population of endangered species, such as the Chelonoidis hoodensis. Hopefully, they will all return to ruling the archipelago in due course.

Updated:June 6, 2024

Published:April 25, 2017

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