March 11, 2010
The Technical Office of the Galapagos National Park located in the Island of San Cristobal reported this week that five eggs of the unique and rare species of giant tortoise, Geochelone chathamensis, endemic to the Island of Chatham or San Cristobal, have successfully hatched. This species is one considered in potential danger of extinction due to their currently small population. For this reason, the hatching of these five eggs becomes excellent news for the conservation of the animal that symbolizes and represents the Galapagos Islands in many ways.
In November of 2009, at the semi-natural “galapaguera”, a semi-closed, yet natural giant tortoise Reserve, at Cerro Colorado, in the highlands of San Cristobal, nine eggs were collected from a natural nest. They were placed on artificial incubators, set at a temperature of 29.5° C, the temperature established by the experts as the ideal to generate female individuals. After 112 days, the first five have successfully hatched and the Park officials and wardens are awaiting for the remaining four which could equally hatch within the next few days.
The “Galapaguera” at Cerro Colorado was particularly created by the National Park to control, monitor, care and repopulate the island with its own particular species of giant tortoise, exclusive to the easternmost of the islands in the Archipelago, which once existed in large numbers in San Cristobal. The installations include the well equipped “Jacinto Gordillo” Laboratory, named in honor of a local scientist and dedicated conservationist who spent decades caring for the preservation of many of the islands unique species, particularly those in peril.
This Reserve started a few years ago with 29 individuals and presently has a total of 59, between adults, juveniles and hatchlings. Since the beginning of this project, several adult individuals were rescued, scattered around isolated and remote areas of the island. Since then, 18 tortoises were born at Cerro Colorado by natural hatching; and now these 5 specimens are born by means of the controlled incubation process.
The purpose of this project is fundamentally to repopulate the island with its endemic species of giant tortoise, process which has borne successful fruits on several other islands, guaranteeing the survival of the emblematic species, which gives the actual name of “Galapagos” to the world famous islands, belonging to Ecuador. The islands are the country’s first and most important National Park, created in 1959 and for decades a world famous nature-oriented tourism destination. Additionally, both the terrestrial National Park, which covers 97% of the land surface of the Archipelago and the entire Marine Reserve, the second largest in the world, are official UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites and a Biosphere Reserve.
The officials and wardens of the Galapagos National Park in charge of the Conservation and Restoration of Ecosystems Process and the San Cristobal Technical Office proudly made the announcement, which has proven that the system is effective and represents a success of the controlled incubation pilot plan started precisely at the Cerro Colorado installation. The Park’s officials announced that they are preparing the first batch or group of young adult tortoises who will be installed at the pre-adaptation corrals, one step before being repatriated to their natural habitat. In this way, Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands continue providing not only unique fauna, flora and ecosystems but exemplary cases of effective and well planned and conducted conservation. These events enhance the world’s interest in the Galapagos as a premier tourism and travel destination to enjoy nature at its very best in the planet’s most extraordinary living laboratory of life and evolution…