Photograph without a specific date, provided today by the Galapagos National Park, shows several giant tortoises in the area of the Alcedo volcano, during an expedition of experts between January 17 and 24, 2021, on Isabela Island, Galapagos (Ecuador). EFE / Jibson Valley / Galapagos National Park
4,723 giant tortoises tagged on a volcanic island in the Galapagos
By Newsroom Infobae
February 1, 2021
Quito, Feb 1 (EFE) .- Park rangers and scientists from the Galapagos National Park Directorate marked 4,723 specimens of a giant tortoise that lives on the volcanic island of Isabela, in the Ecuadorian archipelago, in order to be able to follow their development.
The Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment and Water specified in a statement issued this Monday that the turtles, of the Chelonoidis vandenburghi species, were marked between January 17 and 24 in the Alcedo volcano, north of the aforementioned Isabela Island.
It is estimated that the Galapagos Islands are currently home to around 60,000 giant tortoises and the populations of the Alcedo volcano are considered “the healthiest” in the archipelago.
In the mentioned period, 160 square kilometers were tracked and a total of 1,745 females, 1,794 males and 1,184 juveniles of the species were marked, figures that “exceeded the expectations” of the technicians who make up the Initiative for the Restoration of Giant Tortoises.
Efforts were directed at the two sections of the volcano that, due to the availability of food, approximately 90% of the turtle population are concentrated on the summit and eastern and southern slopes, as well as inside the caldera.
The director of the Galapagos National Park, Daniel Rueda, estimates that finding this number of turtles in the volcanic zone “confirms that the management programs implemented are successful.”
The representative of the Galapagos Conservancy entity that participated in the project, Washington Tapia, said that the “data suggests that it is a healthy population because a species that has one male for each female in nature, as is the case of turtles from the Alcedo volcano, is a completely viable [species].”
And although there is a lack of data to process, he estimated that “the population exceeds 12,000 to 15,000 turtles.”
The eradication of goats and donkeys in the environment in 2006 has, according to experts, allowed the population of giant tortoises to flourish. The expedition revealed that this is the population of giant Galapagos tortoises found in the best state of conservation.
However, they are not entirely free of threats, as invasive species such as rats and feral cats were also found.
In parallel, in the monitoring work, abundant vegetation was located, including eight tree ferns of a species previously considered extinct in the Alcedo volcano.
The Galapagos Islands, cataloged in 1978 as a Natural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco for forming a unique terrestrial and marine ecosystem in the world, are located about a thousand kilometers from the Ecuadorian continental coasts.
In total they counted 4 723 giant tortoises
From January 17 to 24, park rangers and scientists monitored giant tortoises at the Alcedo volcano, on Isabela Island, the data they obtained is very encouraging.
Danny Rueda, director of the Galapagos National Park, pointed out “Finding this number of turtles in the Alcedo volcano confirms that the management programs implemented are successful. The eradication of goats and donkeys in 2006 has allowed the giant tortoise population to flourish. In addition, abundant vegetation was found which guarantees a permanent source of food for this species ”.
Washington Tapia, of the Galapagos Conservancy and leader of the expedition, mentioned “These data suggest that it is a healthy population because in nature a species that has one male for each female, as is the case of the Alcedo volcano turtles, it is a completely viable population. And although there is a lack of data to process, I estimate that the population exceeds 12 to 15 thousand turtles ”.
Johannes Ramírez, park ranger who participated in this expedition, explained “the monitoring work demands extreme physical effort since in a single day some groups had to travel up to 27 kilometers to cover the assigned area and effectively comply with the sampling objectives, without However, it was worth it when we could visualize in a single quadrant of more or less 200 meters a group of more than 500 turtles ”.
This expedition revealed that this is the population of giant Galapagos tortoises that is in the best state of conservation; but it is not free of threats, as invasive species such as rats and feral cats were also found.
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