Rearing and Repatriation of Galápagos Tortoises:
Geochelone nigra hoodensis, a Case Study
LINDA J. CAYOT and GERMÁN E. MORILLO
Charles Darwin Research Station, Casilla 17-01-3891, Quito, Ecuador
ABSTRACT: The rearing and repatriation program for Galápagos tortoises, Geochelone nigra, was established in 1965 to save endangered populations from extinction. The tortoise population of Española, G. n. hoodensis, was so close to extinction that, between 1963 and 1974, all tortoises found on the island (12 females and 2 males) were removed to the Breeding Center. The first successful hatching occurred in the 19701971 season. Both incubation and rearing procedures have been greatly improved in the last ten years, resulting in much higher hatching and survival rates. The first tortoises were repatriated to Española in 1975. As of December 1994, a total of 664 juvenile tortoises have been returned to their native island. In 1990 the first hatchlings (both dead) and attempted nests were found on the island. In 1991 the first live hatchling was found. The long-term goal of establishing self-sustaining populations that do not require intervention by humans is probable for the Española tortoise population. As we enter the new century, intensive management of this population may no longer be necessary.
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