Target: Conservation biologist James Gibbs
Goal: Applaud rehabilitation of Galapagos tortoises, which led to stability of the species
The Galapagos tortoise is officially a stable species thanks to the efforts of knowledgeable scientists and dedicated students. Efforts to replenish the Galapagos tortoise population have spanned over 50 years, demanding full concentration and dedication of all involved. The conservation biologist in charge of the project, James Gibbs, names this triumph as one of the greatest conservation success stories in human history.
In the 1960’s, only 15 Galapagos tortoises existed on the small island of Espanola, a body of land in the Galapagos Islands. The tortoise population first started to suffer in the 1800’s, when fisherman introduced feral goats to the island. The non-native goats took a toll on Espanola’s ecosystem, which in turn affected the native tortoise population. Controversially, Gibbs ordered the annihilation of the island’s goat population; meanwhile, captive-bred turtles were introduced to the island then periodically recaptured and studied. The studies revealed that the tortoises were breeding and therefore successfully adapting. Now, about 1,000 tortoises reside on Espanola.
Galapagos tortoises only live in a few locations, so Espanola’s healthy tortoise population solidifies the species, ensuring that its extinction is not plausible for a very long time. Commend Gibbs and his team for rehabilitating the Galapagos tortoise population.
Dear Mr. Gibbs,
For many years you dedicated the majority of your energy to rehabilitating the Galapagos tortoise population of Espanola. Conservationists, yourself included, created a healthy and safe habitat for the tortoises to thrive once again. However, when dealing with species’ decline in the future, please exercise more compassion for other animals involved. In the case of the Espanola tortoises, the non-native feral goat population of the island was decimated. The large issue here is the goats were picked off, one by one, by aerial gunmen. This news is very disheartening. I understand that the goat population was a threat to the tortoises’ survival; however, they could have simply been displaced rather than killed.
Destroying a population of one species in order to save another is backward thinking. While I do support your rehabilitative efforts, violent actions against other animals should not be supported by conservationists. I urge you to use caution in the future when dealing with invasive species—murder should be a last resort.
Thank you for your dedication to threatened species. I urge you to continue supporting and raising awareness for species in need.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Mfield via Wikimedia Commons