The species was thought to have gone extinct over a century ago.
For the scientists who found a 100-year old female giant tortoise on Fernandina Island in the Galápagos, the best possible news has just been confirmed: genetic tests have proven it is a member of the species thought to have become extinct 112 years ago.
The Galápagos Conservancy and the Galápagos National Park Directorate are now in a race to find a mate for the female Chelonoidis phantasticus and save the species.
“One of the greatest mysteries in Galápagos has been the Fernandina Island Giant Tortoise. Rediscovering this lost species may have occurred just in the nick of time to save it. We now urgently need to complete the search of the island to find other tortoises,” said Dr. James Gibbs, Vice President of Science and Conservation for the Galápagos Conservancy and a tortoise expert at the State University of New York.
“We desperately want to avoid the fate of Lonesome George,” said Danny Rueda Córdova, Director of the Galápagos National Park Directorate in a press release. “My team from the Park and Galápagos Conservancy are planning a series of major expeditions to return to Fernandina Island to search for additional tortoises."
We shall all be keeping our fingers firmly crossed!