Charles Darwin Research Station

May 03, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II


The Charles Darwin Research Station and the National Park Service have the Breeding Centre, their partnership has managed to save the giant tortoises of the Galapagos from going extinct. By saving the tortoises, they have saved almost all reptiles.

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

The program started back in the 1960’s with the Española sub specie, the numbers of individuals where going down due to the presence of introduce goats and donkeys. The mammals will forage the vegetation leaving the tortoises not only without food but also without shelter. After years of research and hard work, the programs have been a 100% success; today over 2,000 young tortoises have been repatriated to their island of origin and are now reproducing in the wild without human intervention.

In the afternoon tortoises in the wild kept our groups excited and busy, it was amazing to see them in their natural habitat; photographers took the pictures they have come to the islands for. A bit of drizzle made the scenery very dramatic, walking among these incredible friendly creatures made us feel transported in time to maybe a hundred years ago, when the tortoises roamed the islands alone.

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About the Author

Ximena Cordova

Naturalist

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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