Nature

Miracle tortoise! 100-year-old found after she was thought to be extinct

Plans are underway to find the Galápagos female a mate

The constant stream of daunting headlines might make you feel like you want to hide under a rock for a while.

And that’s exactly what it seems like one tortoise did… for 100 years.

A giant tortoise, known as a Galápagos, has been found after she was believed to be extinct.

In fact, the entire species was thought to have been wiped out, declining from 250,000 reptiles in the 16th century to 3,000 by the 1970s, and more recently, dipping into single figures.

[Credit: Magdalena Kula Manchee]

The Galápagos gang are known for their long lifespans, with one infamous member of the squad named Harriet, who resided at Australia Zoo, living to the grand old age of 175.

The latest discovery was found on Fernandina Island, one of the islands of the Galápagos Islands which are part of the Republic of Ecuador.

As soon as the female tortoise was located, genetic testing began and has since proven she is a member of the species thought to have gone extinct more than a century ago.

In a desperate bid to resurrect the species and help the lonely lass to thrive, researchers will urgently launch expeditions to find a mate for her.

[Credit: Magdalena Kula Manchee]

Speaking about the exciting project, tortoise expert (what a title!) Dr James Gibbs said: “One of the greatest mysteries in Galápagos has been the Fernandina Island giant tortoise.

“Rediscovering this lost species may have occurred just in the nick of time to save it. We now urgently need to complete the search of the island to find other tortoises.”  

Gibbs and his team are keen to avoid the fate of Lonesome George, a Pinta Island tortoise and last known individual of that particular species.

[Credit: Harriet at Australia Zoo]

In his final years, before his death at 102 nearly a decade ago, he was considered the rarest creature in the world.

There were many attempts to find a mate for him, however, regrettably they all proved unsuccessful as on the occasion experts did try, the eggs did not hatch.

Now, the Galápagos Conservancy have set up a fundraiser to scout for lost tortoises – including helicopters to hunt from the air – and bring any they find to the breeding centre.

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