December 9, 2019
The discovery of a giant tortoise on Fernandina Island earlier this year — an island where tortoises were believed to be extinct — increased the need for an intensive, thorough expedition to search the entire island’s possible tortoise habitat for more tortoises. Since 1967, there have been reports of trails that suggest the presence of more than one animal on the island.
Last month, the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative (GTRI) team from the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) and Galapagos Conservancy executed an expedition in which 10 groups of scientists and Park rangers were deployed to thoroughly search the island for tortoises. However, in spite of their efforts, poor weather conditions that persisted throughout the six-day expedition made it difficult to fulfill the entire search plan, and only trails and feces of tortoises (possibly female) were found.
“The trails suggest that there is still at least one tortoise on the island, but the dense vegetation, especially ferns, made it impossible to locate,” said Washington Tapia, Director of the GTRI and leader of the expedition. The team is planning a new and final search when weather conditions should be improved; most likely in January 2020.
Watch this space for updates on the Fernandina Island tortoise search.