News: The Fernandina Giant Tortoise, native to the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean and believed possibly extinct may still be alive.
In February 2019, a group of scientists hiked to the top of an active volcano and spotted a female tortoise from the species on Fernandina Island in the Galapagos. The last confirmed sighting of a living Fernandina tortoise was 112 years ago in 1906 so this sighting has inspired hope!
The female tortoise, thought to be roughly 100 years old, was taken by the team to a breeding center on Santa Cruz Island. The team felt that she had been living in an area that had few food sources and finding her again would have been difficult. The team also plan to take DNA samples from the female tortoise and send them to Yale University to confirm that she belongs to the Fernandina Giant Tortoise family.
There are 15 known species of giant tortoises belonging to the Galápagos Islands, four of which are now extinct. The only other place giant tortoises exist are in the Seychelles.
Hollywood superstar and prominent wildlife conservation spokesperson and supporter Leonardo DiCaprio posted details of this discovery and the expedition on his Instagram page as well which will hopefully build more awareness and inform more people about what is going on.
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It had been more than 100 years since anyone saw a giant tortoise on the Galapagos’ Fernandina Island, until last February. This week the @parquegalapagos @galapagosconservancy will brave the elements—including a geologically active volcano, scorching sunlight, and razor-sharp lava—to see if they can find additional animals. In the meantime, they await the results of a genetic test that will reveal whether the female found in February is, in fact, the Fernandina Galapagos Tortoise, one of @global_wildlife_conservation’s most wanted lost species, or if she is a different species from another island. 🐢 Photo courtesy of @forrest.galante
During their search of Fernandina, they came across more tortoise tracks in the soil. The team is planning another expedition to the island later this year in hope of finding others. They hope to be able to revive the population’s numbers and restore them to their natural environment. We look forward to positive news!