Giant tortoise from Santa Cruz Island off the southwestern coast of California has saved its entire species from extinction by fathering 800 babies. Diego, the giant tortoise who is now more than 100 years was reportedly a part of the group which was chosen for a special breeding programme in the 1960s.
The Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative(GTRI), which was started by Ecuador’s Environmental Ministry to protect the species from facing extinction when only two males, 12 female tortoises of the Chelonoidis hoodensis species were surviving on the island of Española in the Galápagos. Around 50 years later, the breeding programme has produced more than 2,000 baby tortoises and 800 out of them are Diego’s offsprings.
The officials have revealed that Diego which has been living in the San Diego zoo, along with other 14 breeders will soon return to the wild as the ministry has decided to bring the tortoise restoration project to an end. Over the years, Diego has become a pin-up for the conservation scheme with around 40 per cent of the tortoise repatriated being related to him. Washington Tapia, the director of GTRI said that the conditions necessary for turtle breeding have returned to normal on the island. Jorge Carrión, the director of the national park added that management actions like regeneration of cacti have restored the ecological balance of the island.
Last year, a tortoise said to be 344-year-old by the royal rulers of Ogbomosho, southwest Nigeria, died after being sick for a few days. Alagba, meaning the elderly one, lived in the palace of Ogbomoso in Oyo state and was believed to have healing powers that attracted visitors from far and wide.The elderly reptile was brought in the palace by the kingdom’s third leader Isan Okumoyede who ruled from 1770 to 1797 and has since lived in the palace. Reportedly the tortoise was already 100-years old when she was found and brought to the palace by Okumoyede, which derives the tortoise’s grand age of 344.