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Diego-The Giant Tortoise

  • 14 Jan 2020
  • 2 min read

Why in News

Recently, Diego (Chelonoidis hoodensis, or the giant tortoise species) has retired from the captive breeding programme in the Galapagos National Park, Ecuador.

  • He will be returned to Española Island, from where he was taken around 80 years ago.

Key Points

  • Diego is 100 years old and joined the breeding programme in 1976.
    • The tortoise population has since gone up from 15 to 2,000.
    • He is responsible for about 40% of the offspring produced.
  • Another male tortoise ‘E5’ has generated about 60% offspring.
  • Diego has a long leathery neck, dull-yellow face and beady eyes. Fully stretched out, he extends to about five feet and weighs about 176 pounds.
  • The long neck is critical for his species’ survival, helping the tortoises crane their necks to feed on cacti.
  • Threats:
    • Tortoises on the Galápagos Islands served as an excellent source of food for seafarers in the 1800s so a large number were picked up from the islands.
    • Feral goats on the islands posed another danger, competing for food, destroying the tortoises’ habitat.
  • IUCN Red List Status: Critically Endangered

Galápagos National Park

  • It was created in 1959 and it was the first national park of Ecuador.
  • The Galápagos Islands were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.

Source: IE

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