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Conservationists Missed the Passing of Lonesome George

Updated on March 11, 2015
 Lonesome George, the giant tortoise and symbol of the Galapagos Islands, dies at 100
Lonesome George, the giant tortoise and symbol of the Galapagos Islands, dies at 100 | Source

'Lonesome George' is dead

After spending a solitary life, death claimed the more than 100 years old giant tortoise ‘Lonesome George’ with no known cause at his long-time residence at Charles Darwin Research Station in the small island of Sta. Cruz on the 24th of June 2012, Sunday.

George in Pinta Island, Galapagos, 2008
George in Pinta Island, Galapagos, 2008

An object hard to forget

Animal lovers and conservationists will miss him a lot. Belonging to the type of giant tortoises called Geochelone negraabingdoni, he was the last of his subspecies. At the time of his discovery in 1972 in Pinta island, George species was already delisted as extinct. Conservationists were overjoyed over his finding and did their best to have him produced his offspring but failed. Paired with females from other species of giant tortoises, produced negative results. Eggs were found infertile and failed to hatch, said the caretakers.

George died June 2012
George died June 2012

Remains preserved

At the day of his demise, his longtime caretaker Fausto Llerena found him sprawled facing his watering hole. He placed the lifeless tortoise in an icebox so it won’t decay till the necropsy which was planned.

Lonesome George while alive was an active member in the Ecuador Galapagos National Park Service Program, but efforts to have him multiply his species did not succeed. As mentioned earlier, the female tortoise paired to him did lay but infertile eggs.

Hope of upgrading the tortoises

To the Ecuadorian government conservationists, Lonesome George was the hope that provide the strength to restore and upgrade all the species of tortoises in the islands as they were already classified as threatened and endangered. The animal left a legacy towards the restoration of Pinta island and other species of giant tortoises in the Galapagos in the fields of research and management. In honor of the deceased animal, a workshop by July was hatched towards the sustained restoration of the population of tortoise for the next decade.

Galapagos Islands

Travel map
Travel map

About Galapagos archipelago

50 islands of volcanic origin scattered over an area of about 4500 square kilometers make up the Galapagos archipelago the home of the giant tortoises. About 20,000 of these fascinating creatures are currently here in the archipelago, according to the park’s website. Galapagos’ next door neighbor is Ecuador which is 998 kilometers or 620 miles away.

Tortoises can live up to 100 years by strongly adapting to eating even cactus, others in the Galapagos.
Tortoises can live up to 100 years by strongly adapting to eating even cactus, others in the Galapagos.

Powerful adaptation

If animals eat and drink water to survive, Lonesome George and all his kins do too to live. They adapt to edible things available in Galapagos- cactus, grasses, vines, fruits and other vegetation. Vegetarian- it could be the reason why they can live up to 200 years, they don’t eat meat. They have a very remarkable system of storing food and water that enables them to live up to 1 year without eating and drinking. They have the power to break down their fat to produce water when not provided liquid.

English naturalist Charles Darwin
English naturalist Charles Darwin

Darwin to conduct research

The world was focus on the Galapagos in 1835 when HMS Beagle dropped anchor on its shore with Charles Darwin on board to conduct his research on the revolutionary theories on evolution.

By reason of the coming of tourists and the introduction of invasive species bringing with them negative effects, the organization has declared the archipelago’s environment endangered in 2007.

Galapagos, aside from being the home of the rare giant tortoise, is likewise paradise to exotic flora and fauna that inhabit its land and shores nearby, thus it’s no wonder why it was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978.

Source: Inquirer LifeStyle


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    • nick071438 profile image

      nick071438 5 years ago from City of Catbalogan, W, Samar, Philippines

      Thanks for the visit Cat R and for your concern to nature as well.

    • Cat R profile image

      Cat R 5 years ago from North Carolina, U.S.

      A shame that humanity tends to be at fault when yet another species dies out.