Quantcast
Jun 262012
 

Lonesome George, last-of-his-kind Galapagos tortoise, dies Photo: Stringer/Files
A lumbering giant Galapagos tortoise known as Lonesome George lifts his head up during a walk in his protected home in the island chain in Puerto Ayora this February. Lonesome George was the last remaining tortoise of his kind and a conservation icon
Photo: (c) Stringer/Files

Lonesome George, the last remaining tortoise of his kind and a conservation icon, 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, told Reuters. “His life cycle came to an end.”

George was believed to be around 100 years old and the last member of a species of giant tortoise from La Pinta, one of the smallest islands in the Galapagos, the Galapagos National Park said.

The giant Galapagos tortoises, which can live up to 200 years old, were among the species that helped Charles Darwin formulate his theory of evolution in the 19th century.

The Galapagos National Park is considering embalming George’s body so that it can be displayed in the park, Naula said.

A spokesperson said the park plans to carry out a necropsy to determine what may have killed the tortoise.

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 infertile.

The pen where George lived was visited by thousands of tourists every year, who often had to scramble with each other to take pictures of one of the rarest creatures on Earth.

The islands often attract celebrities, including Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt earlier this year.

Tortoises were hunted for their meat by sailors and fishermen to the point of extinction, while their habitat has been eaten away by goats introduced from the mainland.

Some 20,000 giant tortoises still live on the Galapagos.

First published in World Environment News

Nic Slocum

Nic Slocum

Nic Slocum is an experienced naturalist and wildlife guide and is best known for his escorted tours taking enthusiasts out, both in Ireland and overseas, to view and photograph whales and dolphins. Nic maintains a lifelong passion for using the written word to promote the conservation of our wildlife and wild places and has appeared as an expert commentator on both radio and TV. A zoologist by training, Nic has published articles on conservation related issues in regional and national newspapers. Nic is a director of Whale Watch West Cork.com and Whales World Wide.com


Leave a Comment

  • http://www.whalesworldwide.com/ Nic Slocum

    I agree Ken. He was the last of the La Pinta Island giant tortoises which were characterised by the large raised part of the shell behind the head. Technically a sub species of the giant tortoise but another severe blow to biodiversity. I should think Charles Darwin is turning in his grave!

  • http://focusingonwildlife.com/ Ken Billington

    Nic, tragic that yet another species has become extinct!

Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days

  1. » POLL: Should the ban on fox hunting be relaxed in the UK? [10666 Views]
  2. POLL: Should the slaughter of wolves in British Columbia be banned? » [2471 Views]
  3. POLL: Should the Dolphin Slaughter in Taiji Cove be stopped? » [1508 Views]
  4. Petition: Stop Lion Canned Hunting in South Africa – Shocking Video » [835 Views]
  5. POLL: Should the Faroe Islands’ whale slaughter be allowed to continue? » [556 Views]
  6. » POLL: Should the fox-hunting laws in the UK be relaxed? [499 Views]
  7. POLL: Should the Monk Parakeet be eradicated in the UK? » [482 Views]
  8. POLL: Should the wolf hunting contest in Idaho be stopped? » [442 Views]
  9. POLL: Should bear hunting be banned in the US? » [418 Views]
  10. Scientists uncover five new species of ‘toupee’ monkeys in the Amazon » [394 Views]

Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months

  1. » POLL: Should the ban on fox hunting be relaxed in the UK? [11113 Views]
  2. POLL: Should the Faroe Islands’ whale slaughter be allowed to continue? » [7942 Views]
  3. POLL: Should the fox-hunting laws in the UK be relaxed? » [7344 Views]
  4. POLL: Should the slaughter of wolves in British Columbia be banned? » [5710 Views]
  5. POLL: Should the Dolphin Slaughter in Taiji Cove be stopped? » [5645 Views]
  6. Petition: Stop Lion Canned Hunting in South Africa – Shocking Video » [5335 Views]
  7. POLL: Should the Slaughter of Grouse be allowed to continue? » [5136 Views]
  8. Komodo and its Dragons » [4747 Views]
  9. POLL: Should bear hunting be banned in the US? » [4118 Views]
  10. Trophy Hunting in Africa – Wildlife Slaughter in Graphic Images » [3941 Views]