Galapagos Tortoise

On the Galapagos Islands, William Dampier wrote excitedly of the giant tortoises he encountered: “I do believe there is no place in the world that is so plentifully stored with these animals….” This photo was taken at the Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos. No longer plentiful, the Galapagos tortoise is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN's Red List for Threatened Species. In the past, hunting drastically reduced their numbers, and though hunting is no longer allowed, populations are still very low.  Today it's introduced species -- cats, rats, pigs, goats -- that are making life hard for these fascinating animals.

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Galapagos