Scientists have successfully reintroduced giant tortoises to a Galápagos island where the species once teetered on extinction, raising conservation hopes for the rest of the archipelago.A survey of Española, the southernmost island, confirmed last week that a pioneering effort to repatriate giant tortoise hatchlings has produced a thriving, reproducing population of more than 1,500 specimens. The project aims to turn the clock back to before human beings all but wiped out a species that helped to inspire Charles Darwin's theories on evolution and natural selection. "It's a great end to a sad story," said Johannah Barry, president of Galápagos Conservancy, a Virginia-based organisation which partly funded the study.
There were hopes that Pinta Island could be similarly repopulated but Lonesome George, the only surviving Pinta Tortoise, has so far failed to produce offspring. Scientists are now introducing the Pinta's close relation, the Espanola tortoise to that island.