Giant tortoise Diego is now being released back into the wild after single-handedly saving his species from certain extinction. The giant tortoise that was recruited along with over 14 other adults will finally be returned to his native island of Espanola in March 2020.
The announcement was made by Galapagos National Parks service on Friday. According to reports, almost 1,800 tortoises have been returned to the island of Espanola and thanks to natural reproduction rates the island now has close to 2,000 tortoises. According to the Park's director, Jorge Carrion, this shows that the islands tortoise population are naturally able to grow, develop and reproduce.
Diego is believed to be the father of around 40 per cent of the islands tortoise population. 50 years ago there were only two males and 12 female giant tortoises on the island and they were deemed to be too spread out to re-produce and thus Diego was brought California's San Diego Zoo to join the breeding program which was set up in the mid-1960s. It is no exaggeration to say that the program was intended to save the species from extinction.
It is believed that Diego was first taken away from Galapagos sometime in the first half of the 20th century and he will now finally be returning back to his home after roughly eight decades. Diego weighs about 80 kilograms and is nearly 90 centimetres tall. The Galapagos Islands were first made famous by Charles Darwin who commented on the islands breathtaking biodiversity.
Galápagos Island is a tortoise-rich part of the earth as a species of tortoise which was believed to be extinct was also found in the same area. A living member of the species was not seen alive in more than 110 years and was feared to be extinct has been found in remote areas of the Islands, Fernandina.
An adult female, also known as the Fernandina Giant Tortoise, was spotted by a joint expedition of the National Park in the island. Ecuador's Environment Ministry said in a statement that investigators think there is a possibility of more tortoise from the same species. The animal which looked more than a hundred years old was reportedly taken to a breeding centre of giant tortoises.