Tortoise feared extinct found on remote Galapagos island

Scientists found the giant animal. Credit CEN

Scientists found the giant animal. Credit CEN

An adult female Fernandina Giant Tortoise, or Chelonoidis phantasticus, possibly more than 100 years old, was found on Fernandina Island by a joint expedition of the Galapagos National Park and the USA -based Galapagos Conservancy, Ecuador's Ministry of the Environment said in a statement Wednesday.

A female from a species known as the Fernandina giant tortoise was discovered last weekend on the island of Fernandina.

The Fernandina giant tortoise was last seen alive in 1906, and experts thought it was extinct.

The researchers believe that there could be more tortoises of this species because they have found tracks and excrement in other areas of Fernandina Island, in the west of the archipelago.

Conservationists have taken measures to save the tortoise by moving it to a breeding centre on the nearby island of Santa Cruz.

"They will need more than one, but females may store sperm for a long time", Stuart Pimm, a conservation ecologist at Duke University, told the Associated Press.

The tortoise was discovered during a joint expedition of the Galapagos National Park and the US-based Galapagos Conservancy.

The islands belong to Ecuador and the tortoise discovery was announced by the country's ministry of environment.

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While on their trek the group found the tortoise scat and identified it positively as belonging to the Fernandina.

It said the female is more than 100 years old.

The Galapagos were made into a national park in 1959 in order to preserve the island ranges' rich biological diversity, which helped inspire Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

Fernandina is the third-largest island in the Galapagos.

"This encourages us to strengthen our search plans to find other tortoise, which will allow us to start a breeding program in captivity to recover this species", Danny Rueda, director of the Galapagos National Park, said.

The tortoise was said to be in mostly good health, albeit underweight.

The Galapagos island chain is located in the Pacific Ocean, about 600 miles off of the coast of Ecuador.

The expedition that led to this incredible animal find will be featured in a summer 2019 episode of Animal Planet's Extinct or Alive.

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