After more than a century, in 2018, baby tortoises started hatching on the Galapagos Islands after the eradication of the eggs done by the black rats.
Black rats on the Pinzon Island had brought the giant tortoises to the brink of extinction due to eating their eggs.
Today, the endangered Giant Tortoise is being born naturally and this is a major breakthrough, scientists note.
Giant Tortoises Are Being Naturally Born Again
In the past, there were 15 species of the Galapagos giant tortoises, but there are only 11 today due to populations being wiped out because of the humans who arrived in the 19th century.
The rats are believed to have arrived in the Archipelago with the whalers and pirates that visited for the first time in the 1800s. Since the black rats were eating the tortoises’ eggs, they weren’t being born naturally.
And, this was also the case with the indigenous birds, snakes, and lizards.
Something Needed to Be Done to Prevent Total Extinction
Back in 2012, the experts used helicopters to disperse rat poison across the landmass of the Pinzon Island. After two years of close monitoring, the island was declared free of rodents in 2014.
And, now, they’ve seen baby tortoises hatching naturally and experts believe this is a very important moment for the future of the species. Also, 12 birds were captured and taken care for on an island nearby for three years before being brought back to their natural habitat.
Back in 1965 when the tortoise number was very low, breeding programs were launched by the directorate of the national park and the Charles Darwin Research Station on the Santa Cruz Island.
They collected and incubated the unhatched eggs on another island where they hatched and were raised for 5 years. When they were large enough not to be attacked by the rats, they were returned to the island.
However, the program won’t be available any longer as the tortoises are now being born naturally.
Even though they first found only 10 hatchlings, it’s the tip of the iceberg and according to probabilities, there are more of them. The scientists have seen 300 tortoises and believe there are now more than 500 living on the island.