Glimmer of Hope – This 100 Year Old Girl Proves Her Species Not Extinct – Yet #nature #extinction #Galapagos

I’ve writen several posts about the sad loss of species to extinction. It’s time for some good news, even if it’s only a glimmer of hope.

Tweet about re-discovered Galapagos TortoiseA rare species of giant tortoise was feared extinct after over 100 years without any sightings on the Galápagos Islands. But now, officials say they’ve found one.

An adult female Fernandina Giant Tortoise, or Chelonoidis phantasticus, possibly older than 100, was found on Fernandina Island… The animal was transported to a breeding center on Santa Cruz Island [for] genetic tests. USA Today

Where’s there’s one, there may be more! Introduced species like rats, cats, pigs, and goats destroyed a lot of Galapogous wildlife, and the poor tortoises made excellent living pantries for early European sailors, but this particular species was threatened by lava flows over 100 years ago.

Today, only two groups of giant tortoises remain around the world – those on the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean and others on Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean.

I wish the old lady and her keepers the best of luck. Lonesome George mated with females from his own island, but the eggs never hatched. Whether scientists learned anything from George that will help this Fernandina tortoise, I don’t know, but of course one lone female can’t breed on her own.

She’s already quite old – the tortoises are thought to have averaged 100 year life span before contact with humans, and some may have lived for 150 years. Their best chance at recovery may be if more individuals have survived, and if people and our traveling-companion animals will now leave them alone.

 What are the odds? Two bits of good news in one day. The world’s largest bee isn’t extinct either, though no one knows how many may survive. Check out the comparison picture to a standard honeybee.

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Another Small, Sad Loss to the World #environment #nature #extinction #SaveTheWorld

hawaiian tree snail shell

Drawing of apexfulva shell – because that’s all we get from now on.

The last known member of his species, George the Hawaiian tree snail has died.

Before reading his story, I didn’t know George existed, but I know there are many critters in trouble. Extinctions are ramping up around the planet, but Hawaii, where so many species once sheltered from competition now face an influx of outsiders, is the extinction capital of the world.

I’m sad to lose George.

He was named after a more-famous last-of-his-kind animal – Lonesome George, a Galapagos tortoise, who died in 2012. I met Lonesome George long ago on a tour of the Galapagos Islands. I’m sad about him too.

Lonesome George tortoise with his keeper

My own picture of Lonesome George with one of his keepers. I had to take a picture of a print – that’s how long ago I visited the Galapagos Islands.

There are other snails and other tortoises. If we were protecting habitats, it might not matter. Nature could recreate the Georges. But in too many places, we’re a destructive force.

Humans are part of nature. We don’t have to go away. To be pro-environment is not to be anti-human. We do have to change how we manage the land so all creatures have a home, and change is hard.

There may be another Achatinella apexfulva Hawaiian tree snail someplace on the island, but he/she (the snails were hermaphrodites) needs to be very lucky to survive.

Why am I sad? Who cares about snails and tortoises? And leopards, gorillas, sea turtles, orangutans, elephants, porpoises, tigers, rhinoceroses, the scaly pangolin, or the Asian Unicorn? Or anything with body parts used in folk medicine? Or… that’s the problem. Even if you don’t care about the rest of Creation, we’re impoverishing our own future.

There is hope. Wealthy individuals and non-profits set land aside as preserves. They buy from private parties, which is only fair.

Governments act. Without laws, a few individuals who may be selfish or desperate can destroy the world’s heritage.

It may even be possible to bring back recent extinctions with technology. But we don’t need cutting-edge genetics to save what we still have. We know what to do.