Lonesome George, a tortoise unique to its sub-specie, was born around 1910 in the Galapagos Islands. The Hungarian malacologist József Vágvölgyi discovered George in La Pinta Island on Novermber 1st, 1971. Many tortoises were abused and smuggled by sealers, therefore, in order to protect George, he was transferred to the Tortoise Center of Santa Cruz. It was expected to find more of the Pinta tortoises (Chelonoidis abingdoni), George sub-species, but until today they never did.
These sub-specie was extinct due to several reasons. In 1957, fishermen released three goats in La Pinta Island without thinking about consequences. By 1970, the goat population had reached an estimate of 40,000 devastating the environment and vegetation for the tortoises. The sealers exploitation of giant tortoises reduced its population and together with the destroyed environment led to the extinction of La Pinta tortoise.
The news of the last Pinta tortoise spread around the world. American media start referring tohim as Lonesome George after George Gobel, a TV comedian. The name stuck.
Even though they never found another Pinta tortoise to help the maintenance of the specie, George was lived with several female tortoise to create hybrid offspring. Many researches and scientific methods where used but sadly every egg put by the females were unsuccessful.
La Pinta Tortoise became totally extinct in the tragic day of George’s death. On early Sunday morning of June 24th, 2012 members of the Galapagos National Park Service found the last Pinta tortoise death in his corral at the Tortoise Breeding and Rearing Center in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island. He was approximately 100 years old. His live and death would always remind us of the consequences of human hands, as the words inscribed outside on the information panel outside the corral of Lonesome George:
”Whatever happens to this single animal, let him always remind us that the fate of all living things on Earth is in human hands.”
If you want to visit the Galapagos Islands and experience the unique biodiversity they are characterized for, taking a Galapagos Cruise would allow you to visit a variety of islands with their own wonders.
“Lonesome George” Galapagos.org. Galapagos Conservancy, n.d. Web. 5 July 2015.