herald

Sunday 20 August 2017

Giant tortoise makes slow comeback

A giant tortoise sub-species that once teetered on the brink of extinction has made a comeback in the Galapagos.

In the 1960s only 15 of the tortoises, which can weigh more than 230kg, remained on the island of Espanola. They came close to being wiped out by ecological damage caused by feral goats introduced in the late 19th Century.

Today, 40 years after captive-bred tortoises were reintroduced to the island by the Galapagos National Park Service, their numbers have grown to around 1,000 and they are breeding.

US conservation expert James Gibbs, from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in New York, said: "The population is secure. It's a rare example of how biologists and managers can collaborate to recover a species from the brink of extinction."

Prof Gibbs led a team that assessed the tortoise's progress using four decades of recorded data on the animals.

hnews@herald.ie

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