Galapagos Island- In 2012 the famous Tortoise Lonesome George passed away from natural causes at the age of 100. His species the Chelonoidis abingdonii sub-species was thought to be extinct.
Eight years later researchers have found a surviving female relative. Conservationists working on Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands discovered the young female tortoise during a 10-day expedition to Wolf Volcano.
“We are absolutely thrilled that she was found. This is very good news.”
-Johannah Barry, President of the Galapagos Conservancy
Conservationists also discovered 11 male tortoises and 18 female tortoises from Wolf Volcano. These specimens are partially related to the Chelonoidis niger species from Floreana Island. These tortoises were also thought to be extinct.
“I think we are cautiously optimistic that this is a species that we will be able to bring back from extinction and we can repopulate Floreana with tortoises that have significant Floreana lineage.”
The discovery of the 30 tortoises collected was a joint venture expedition between the Galapagos Conservancy and the Galapagos National Park Directorate. All tortoises have been transported to a breeding center on Santa Cruz Island. Scientists will evaluate to see if they will be able to join captive breeding programs.
(Cover photo courtesy of Phys.org, 2nd and 3rd photo and source courtesy of NBC News)