'Ex­tinct' gi­ant tor­toise to be bred in cap­tiv­ity

The breed­ing pro­gramme will partly re­pop­u­late the species of Gala­pa­gos gi­ant tor­toise that was wiped out by whalers.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Living -

A SPECIES of Gala­pa­gos gi­ant tor­toise thought to have been made ex­tinct 150 years ago will be bred in cap­tiv­ity, of­fi­cials said, af­ter DNA stud­ies showed spec­i­mens dis­cov­ered in the last decade shared sim­i­lar ge­netic makeup.

The breed­ing pro­gramme in­volv­ing 32 tor­toises – 19 of which are de­scended from the Ch­elonoidis ni­gra species in ques­tion – will al­low for medium-term re­pop­u­la­tion of their na­tive Flore­ana Is­land, the Gala­pa­gos Is­lands Na­tional Park said re­cently.

The Ch­elonoidis ni­gra species was wiped out on Flore­ana Is­land by whalers who took them on ships as food, aban­don­ing some on the slopes of Is­abela Is­land's Wolf Vol­cano to lighten their load.

Species with sim­i­lar ge­net­ics have since been found on Is­abela Is­land, where re­searchers from the Na­tional Park and Gala­pa­gos Con­ser­vancy an­a­lysed 150 tor­toises dur­ing ex­pe­di­tions in 2008 and 2015.

The breed­ing pro­gramme will help "re­pop­u­late Flore­ana Is­land with tor­toises which aren't ex­actly the same, but have very high ge­netic links to its na­tive species", Wash­ing­ton Tapia, di­rec­tor of the Gi­ant Tor­toise Restora­tion Ini­tia­tive, said.

In 2015, Ecuador an­nounced the discovery of the Ch­elonoidis don-faus­toi species on the Gala­pa­gos, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber of Gala­pa­gos gi­ant tor­toise species to 15 – of which three are ex­tinct.

The Gala­pa­gos Is­lands, which served as a lab­o­ra­tory to English nat­u­ral­ist Charles Dar­win, have en­joyed World Her­itage Site sta­tus since 1979. – AFP Re­laxnews

A breed­ing pro­gramme will help re­pop­u­late the gi­ant tor­toises of Flore­ana Is­land in the Gala­pa­gos. — AFP

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