The work of Galapagos Conservancy follows an important continuum, a path identified by our partners in the Islands, our many collaborators, and our own staff, whose deep knowledge of the Archipelago has “ground-truthed” our many projects and programs. And in 2017, we will continue to build on the work that we have been able to institute with your important help. The emphasis on continuity is vital for conservation. It is not a battle that is won quickly — it is a series of triumphs and admittedly some failures in service of the long view. And our work, which began in 1985, suggests that even after 30 years, there are challenges that remain.
With our support, colleagues at the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency have had an extremely successful year, building expertise in the use of trained sniffer dogs for quarantine and control. You may remember our friends, Neville and Darwin, the Giant African Land Snail sniffer dogs, who have now been joined by Vina and Gordo as part of a canine unit doing important work at the airport, the docks, and any other points of entry. 2016 saw the implementation of programs combating fruit flies, baseline data on farm animal diseases, and working with local producers to standardize dairy production (processing, labeling, and storage). In 2017, with your help, this work will continue for the benefit of both the human population and the native plant and animal communities.
We have been writing quite a bit about the work undertaken by the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative team — an excellent example of the importance of the “long game.” Much of this work builds on captive breeding and repatriation efforts of the Galapagos National Park Directorate and the Charles Darwin Foundation, and it is now being accelerated and expanded thanks to your generosity. Our work in 2017 will build on the exciting results of our San Cristóbal census work with regular visits to ensure that the population continues its healthy growth and expansion. This year will also see the important genetic work by our colleagues at Yale continue, helping to inform a long term plan for restoring tortoise populations on Floreana and Pinta.
Our highly successful Education for Sustainability program continues in 2017, with two more Teacher Institutes planned — a significant logistical feat involving hundreds of teachers, weeks of workshops, and great fun. Encouraging this cadre of capable, dedicated teachers will help students become leaders committed to moving Galapagos conservation forward while pursuing livelihoods that are in balance with the special landscapes and wildlife of Galapagos.
We continue to work with our many NGO colleagues in Galapagos, a collaboration that only grows stronger as we jointly seek to address some of the most intractable conservation issues facing the islands. From native species protection, to island-wide restoration on Floreana, to in-the-lab work on combating invasive species, we rely on the talent and enthusiasm of our many partners in the Islands.
And in 2017, after a long, and we hope enjoyable stay in the US, Lonesome George — the last-known Pinta Island tortoise — will return home to be on permanent display at the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Center on Santa Cruz Island. His journey to the US began in 2013 and it is with both pleasure and regret that we wish him a successful journey home.
As always, our thanks for your partnership and support.
Johannah Barry is the founder and President of Galapagos Conservancy.