On February 17, 2019, throughout a current Animal Planet expedition for the series Extinct or Alive, a staff of scientists rediscovered the Fernandina Tortoise, which was thought to have been extinct since 1906, on a remote volcanic island within the Galapagos.
Led by biologist and Extinct or Alive host, Forrest Galante and the workforce took a 3-mile journey throughout hardened lava stream to rediscover the older feminine tortoise.
The group used each excessive and low tech that would stand up to the harshness of the terrain and excessive temperatures within the solar. Along with hardened rubber mountaineering boots, solar buffs and padded gloves, the workforce used army grade thermal imaging drones, GPS walkie talkies, night time imaginative and prescient optics and infrared movement-activated path cameras. On the organic aspect of issues, the group turned to olfactory baits derived from natural pheromones and a collection of self-constructed animal-mimicking units and callers.
“Each mission we go on, whether or not it’s to the Arctic or a volcanic island requires extremely specialised know-how and gear to enhance our probabilities of success,” stated Galante. “On the subject of the animal, my preliminary course of was to make use of a number of Mavic 2 professional drones and operators to conduct aerial grid surveys of the island to search for the tortoise.”
Galante says this preliminary plan was unsuccessful as a result of solely small pockets of appropriate habitat have been capable of be recognized by the drones.
“That habitat had an excessive amount of foliage to have the ability to spot a tortoise from the air,” added Galante. “The drone recognized the habitat, however we approached it on foot, and regardless of all of the tech on the market, we used much less tech on this survey than most of the others.”
The group discovered the animal sheltering herself from the solar buried underneath the comb after figuring out tortoise scat and lively bedding website. They have been capable of make a constructive identification based mostly on her shell morphology and facial traits.
Nevertheless, turtle biologists from the Turtle Conservancy consider the animal is more likely to be a Fernandina Tortoise (Chelonoidis phantasticus) as a result of they’ve by no means seen the feminine of the species. The final specimen of the species was male and picked up in 1906.
Based on Anders Rhodin, Turtle Conservancy and IUCN specialist group, the pictures from the group present a saddle-backed, previous feminine about half to 2-thirds the dimensions of the recognized male.
“Pending genetic affirmation, that is virtually undoubtedly the misplaced Fernandina Big Tortoise,” stated Rhodin.
The tortoise was taken to the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Breeding Middle in Isla Santa Cruz to watch and guarantee her survival which features a nutritious diet. The researchers hope that if there’s sperm retention, there might be fertile eggs and offspring which might hold the species alive.
This episode of Extinct or Alive that includes the rediscovery of the Fernandina Tortoise will debut in the summertime of 2019 on Animal Planet.
The Turtle Conservancy and International Wildlife Conservation have pledged a $one hundred,000 match to additional conservation efforts of the Fernandina Big Tortoise.