August 25, 2011
GNP NEWS: The Galapagos National Park closes tourist access to the tortoise corrals in the Breeding and Rearing Center on Santa Cruz
The adaptive management measure responds to recent evidence of a lack of responsibility shown by some naturalist guides and tourists visiting the site.
The giant tortoises can be observed from the viewing platforms.
This week the Galapagos National Park Service decided to close visitor access to the two giant tortoise corrals in the Tortoise Center on Santa Cruz, where visitors had been able to walk freely among the tortoises.
The only two corrals that had traditionally been open to the public were closed by the park rangers to stop any tourist groups from entering the corrals due to reports received by the environmental authority in recent months showing an increase in inappropriate actions on the part of some naturalist guides and visitors.
The reports document littering and a lack of respect for the visitor rules of the GNPS in protected areas, such as the prohibition of touching any animals and the requirement of maintaining a distance of 2 m from all animals. A large number of visitors have also been observed walking on the feeding platforms of the tortoises.
The closing of access to the corrals has not affected the opportunity to tourists for visitors to view the tortoises. The infrastructure created to facilitate the visit to the “Fausto Llerena” Giant Tortoise Breeding and Rearing Center has been designed with observation platforms and interpretation stations, from which the tortoises can be easily seen.
The GNPS will monitor the new measure to determine whether it will be suspended or maintained for an indefinite period.
The “Fausto Llerena” Giant Tortoise Breeding and Rearing Center is located on Santa Cruz, where it has been functioning for more than 40 years. It is considered a Cultural-educational Visitor Site. It receives approximately 7,800 tourists each month and currently holds 925 juvenile tortoises and 70 adult tortoises.