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April 10, 2013
A group of 150 six-year-old tortoises from the Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding and Rearing Center of the Galapagos National Park on Isabela Island will be repatriated to their area of origin on April 20, 2013. They will be transported by boat from Villamil to Cinco Cerros, on the southern slopes of Cerro Azul, the westernmost volcano of Isabela Island.
Prior to repatriation, the juvenile tortoises (Chelonoidis guntheri) underwent a period of preparation and quarantine, during which time rangers from the GNP’s Technical Unit of Isabela and scientists from the Charles Darwin Foundation dewormed them and took blood and stool samples for analysis.
Each of the tortoises was measure, weighed, and marked with a PIT tag (permanent implanted transponder). The average weight was approximately seven pounds. For future identification from a distance, the carapace of each tortoise was also marked.
The tortoises’ age and weight match the recommendations for successful repatriation; they are stronger and less susceptible to introduced species such as rats, ants, and pigs.
On the day of repatriation, park rangers will use one of the rapid launches of the GNP to transport the tortoises. This type of boat is the best for ensuring a successful landing as the coastal area there is quite rough and requires tricky maneuvering. From the landing site, the tortoises will be transported in backpacks to the release site at Cinco Cerros.
Currently there are 949 tortoises at the Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Center, of which these form a part. A total of 1,000 giant tortoises have been repatriated from this center.