Protecting The Galapagos Islands Threatened Species - After the creation of the Galapagos National Park and the establishment of the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island, the first investigation work was initiated in order to establish inventories. This began as early as 1960 with the studies on some reptiles especially the Giant land turtles and the land iguanas. Between 1960 and 1964 it was determined that some of the Tortoise species, classified by Van Denburgh in 1914 in 14 species, were extinct due to several causes:
• Acts of providence (volcanic activity).
• Human capture
• Human depredation
• Depredation by introduced species. (Dogs, rats and pigs).
The Galapagos National Park begins its Institutional work in 1968 with the management, protection and raising programs of tortoises in captivity. The main objective is the recovery of the threatened habitats of the emblematic reptile species.
In 1965, on Santa Cruz Island, the Charles Darwin Research Station started a giant tortoise (Geochelone elephanthopus) raising and repatriation program for Duncan Island. During the following years the program was extended to the inclusion of other threatened populations.
With the acquired experience in management of reptiles in captivity on Santa Cruz Island, another raising center was established on Isabela Island. This way, protection was provided for the giant tortoise populations threatened on the south of Isabela by man. The tortoises come from “La Cazuela”, “Los Gavilanes”, “Cinco Cerros” and “Roca Union”.
Likewise a tortoise raising facility was established on San-Cristobal Island next to the hamlet of “Cerro Verde”. With the birth of the first baby-tortoise on San-Cristóbal Island, a new reproduction system is inaugurated on this Island.
These programs are managed by the GNP and the CH.D.F. Until now around 1600 tortoises, young and old, are kept in captivity at the raising centers as part of the reproduction programs on Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristobal Islands. About 3000 tortoises have been repatriated to their Islands of origin.
On Floreana Island a corral for raising 32 tortoises of unknown origin has been build. These animals were left at Port Velasco Ibarra by an unknown agent and delivered for their care to private parties.