This is the first time to sight even a single tortoise on the Galapagos Island of Pinzon over a century.
There were several years of human activity that has devastated the population of tortoises. So, the recent birth of these shelled babies is a very big step in the right direction.
There can be only seen as critically endangered animals coming back from the brink of extinction.
James Gibbs, a researcher who was among the first to see the hatchlings in December, told The Dodo that, “I’m amazed that the tortoises gave us the opportunity to make up for our mistakes after so long.”
In the mid 18th century, sailors first landed on the Island. They unknowingly introduced some foreign species, rats to the natural environment.
The rats were snuck aboard the ship and get off on the island paradise and decimated the tortoise population. The main source of food for the rats was the eggs.
The rat population flourished as there were few other natural predators on the island. Because the rats began to multiply, it eradicated the island’s tortoise population.
Decades after the rats were first introduced, there was not a single tortoise offspring was able to survive the disaster.
This environmental catastrophe has taken generation to correct.
No, humans have been able to save them as people have seen the mistake that previous humans have done for this animal.
In the 1960s, conservationists were able to launch a joint effort to save the species with only 100 tortoises remaining.
They found the last few remaining unhatched eggs after searching the island and incubated them on another island.
Before the rats were introduced back to the island, the eggs were hatched and raised on that island for nearly five years, until they were large enough to not be attacked by the rats.
But, the rodents still devoured any eggs which were remaining on the island.
It wasn’t until 2012 that biologist were able to develop and distribute a poison using helicopters that was designed to only attract rats.
Gibbs said, “The incredible eradication of rats on this island, done by the park service and others, has created the opportunity for the tortoises to breed for the first time.”
“We did a survey [in December] to see if it was working for the tortoises, and we found 10 new hatchlings. This is the first time they’ve bred in the wild in more than a century.”
Gibbs says it’s just the tip of the iceberg while 10 might not seem like a the biggest baby boom:
“Given projection probabilities, I’m sure there were a hundred times more hatchlings out there.”
Gibbs and his team has spotted 300 tortoises on their trip, and now they suggest that there are more than 500 estimated to be currently living on the island.
They have done a great job!