The Galapagos islands were an intricate part of Charles Darwin’s work and included in that work were Galapagos tortoises. However, these very same tortoises were hunted by fishermen and sailors causing their numbers to plummet. In addition, goats which have been introduced to the islands have destroyed much of the tortoise habitat.
Currently, there are about 20,000 giant tortoises on the Galapagos islands. However, there is only believed to be one Geochelone abigdoni tortoise still living. This tortoise has been affectionately named Lonesome George. George is between the age of 90 and 100 years old and about 200 pounds. His species is native to Pinta Island of the Galapagos.
Lonesome George was found in 1972 and has been living in captivity for many years since. Last year, the tortoise mated with one of his two female tortoise companions. However, the eggs which were laid were found to be infertile. But there is new hope for George continuing the species as five eggs were recently laid.
The eggs will be kept in an incubation unit in order to protect them. It will take approximately 120 days until it can be ascertained whether these eggs will be fertile, unlike last year’s. Scientists are hopeful that these eggs will be the continuation of one of the rarest species on the planet.