Giant tortoise numbers on the island of Española have risen to about 1,500 from a low of 15 in the 1970s. Photograph: Frans Lanting/Corbis
Galápagos giant tortoise saved from extinction by breeding programme
Reintroduction of species that Charles Darwin saw raises conservation hopes for other wildlife
Scientists have successfully reintroduced giant tortoises to a Galápagos island where the species once teetered on extinction, raising conservation hopes for the rest of the archipelago.
A survey of Española, the southernmost island, confirmed last week that a pioneering effort to repatriate giant tortoise hatchlings has produced a thriving, reproducing population of more than 1,500 specimens. The project aims to turn the clock back to before human beings all but wiped out a species that helped to inspire Charles Darwin's theories on evolution and natural selection. "It's a great end to a sad story," said Johannah Barry, president of Galápagos Conservancy, a Virginia-based organisation which partly funded the study.
Preliminary results of the survey, conducted over 10 days by 24 wardens from the Galápagos national park authority, found that albatross, cactus and woody vegetation had also partly recovered, restoring the island to something akin to what Darwin saw two centuries ago.Read more > The Guardian