Whenever there is some news about endangered animals, it’s more often than not negative. Today, however, we have an exciting mystery to share with you.
“Fernanda,” a giant tortoise from a species that had been thought extinct for a century, was found on Galapagos Islands. The discovery took place in 2019 during a joint expedition between the Galapagos National Park and the Galapagos Conservancy on Fernandina Island.
To establish the link, scientists collected samples from Fernanda. They compared them to the remains of the only other found male from the Chelonoidis phantastica species in Fernandina Island. The last sighting of the species had occurred in 1906.
Fernanda is native to the Fernandina island but was assumed to be extinct for 112 years when the species disappeared due to volcano eruptions.
It’s easy to assume that she was gone forever when we know that billions of animals die from natural disasters, such as the 1.25 billion animals who died in recent bushfires. Fortunately, Fernanda was still alive.
There are between 200 and 2,000 extinctions every year. When we come across news like Fernanda’s, it fills us with hopes and faith that there will be more good news by finding other tortoises on the island.
Suppose scientists come across a male of the same species. In that case, the team will try to reunite him with Fernanda at the Galapagos National Park’s Breeding Center and encourage breeding. If it all goes as hoped, their offspring would be raised in captivity and brought back to Fernandina.
Researchers are trying to avoid what happened to a giant tortoise named Lonesome George, the last of his species. He was a native to Pinta Island and died at the age of 100.
Despite breeding efforts, Lonesome George couldn’t save the Chelonoidis abingdonii species.
There is hope! During the excursion, scientists discovered traces of at least two more tortoises that may be from Fernanda’s species. The Galapagos Conservancy initiated a fundraising campaign to find these tortoises and save this species from extinction.