Charles Darwin Research Station

Jul 03, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II

Several Darwin’s finches moved from tree to tree, maybe looking for a mate or maybe for food? The cacti, opuntias of different sizes, made an interesting walkway on our path to see the gentle giants.

The program started back in the 1960s with the Española sub species. Numbers were going down due to the presence of introduced goats and donkeys to the islands. The mammals forage the vegetation, leaving the tortoises not only without food but also without shelter. After years of research and hard work, the program has been a 100% success. Today after the repatriation of 3000 young tortoises to their island of origin, the program no longer needs human intervention. The good news is the tortoises have begun to reproduce without help. 

The Charles Darwin Research Station and the National Park Service have the Breeding Centre. As partners, the two have managed to save the giant tortoises of the Galapagos from going extinct. By saving the tortoises, they have saved almost all reptiles. This is the reason why the Galapagos National Park Service, together with the Charles Darwin Foundation are among the most respected conservation institutions in the world. 

In the afternoon tortoises in the wild kept our groups excited and busy. It was amazing to see them in their natural habitat. Photographers were able to take the pictures they came here for! A bit of drizzle made the scene very dramatic, walking with these incredible friendly creatures made us feel as if we were transported back in time, maybe a hundred years ago, when the tortoises roamed the islands by themselves…

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About the Author

Ximena Cordova


Ximena was born in Cuenca, the third largest city of Ecuador. Located in the Andes Mountains, Cuenca is known as the cultural capital of Ecuador and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site because of its many historical buildings. Ximena gained experience with American culture as an exchange student in Santa Barbara, CA, and later, while living and working at the United Nations in New York City for four and a half years.

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