Last tortoise of his kind dies on Galapagos Islands

 

Lonesome George, the last remaining tortoise of his kind and a symbol of conservationism, died on Sunday of unknown causes, the Galapagos National Park said. He was thought to be about 100 years old.

Lonesome George was found in 1972 and had become a symbol of Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, which attracted some 180,000 visitors last year. “This morning the park ranger in charge of looking after the tortoises found Lonesome George. His body was motionless,” the head of the Galapagos National Park, Edwin Naula, said.

Giant Galapagos tortoises, which can live up to 200 years, were among the species that helped Darwin formulate his theory of evolution. Scientists had been trying to get George to mate since 1993, when they introduced two female tortoises of a different subspecies into his pen. They laid eggs twice, but they were not fertilised.

Tortoises were hunted almost to extinction by sailors and fishermen for their meat, while their habitat has been eaten away by goats. Some 20,000 giant tortoises still live on the Galapagos. – (Reuters)