Posted on 25 June 2012.
The world lost a legend this past weekend.
One of the world’s rarest animals died on Sunday. Lonesome George, a giant tortoise, was estimated to be around 100 years old when a park ranger found him lying motionless in his pen in the Galapagos National Park. Thought to be the last of his kind, he became an icon for the Galapagos. His subspecies (Chelonidis nigra abingdoni) is now functionally extinct.
Lonesome George was found in 1973 and spent the rest of his years in captivity. Efforts to encourage him to reproduce failed. Two females of a different subspecies of giant tortoise were placed in his pen, but once the eggs were laid, they were found to be infertile.
His fame brought thousands of visitors to the islands each year, including human celebrities like Angelina Jolie. This high-profile position lead him to become a symbol of conservation efforts in the Galapagos and globally. The loss of such an icon is a potent reminder of the perils endangered species face.
He will be missed.
Posted in Issues, Species at Risk, Wildlife
Posted on 10 January 2012.
This is Lonesome George tortoise which also lives on the Galapagos Islands but is a different species than the one rediscovered
We here at Defenders of Wildlife are constantly working to prevent the extinction of species because once something is gone, it can never come back. However sometimes something wonderful happens and an animal you thought was gone forever suddenly turns up. That’s exactly what has happened on the northern shore of Isabela Island in the Galapagos archipelago, according to an MSNBC story that appeared today.
As it turns out, the tortoise wasn’t extinct after all—it had just moved. Even more interesting is that despite not yet having actually seen one, scientists know that it must exist because they have found its DNA in the genomes of a hybrid offspring they have discovered on the island. This marks the first time that a species has been rediscovered by tracing its genetic material through its offspring. Very cool! So we here at Defenders would like to say “Welcome back!”
Posted in Features, In the News, International Conservation, Species at Risk