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Galapagos: eradication of goats (5/7)

Galapagos: eradication of goats (5/7)

When Darwin visited the Galápagos, almost every island
was crowded with wildlife. Most large islands
have their own species of tortoise, which could be identified by
the distinctive shape of its shell. Today, some of these species
are extinct and on some islands the tortoises
are limited to nature reserves. The problem is people. Settlers to the islands
have brought in farm animals and other non-native species, which have had a devastating effect
on native habitats. The tortoises which gave
the Galápagos Islands their name have found themselves
sharing their food with wild goats – the descendents of animals
brought into the Galápagos by Ecuadorian fishermen
and British pirates. The tortoises don’t have
the same reach as the goats. They’re happy with handouts
in the tortoise sanctuary but find it harder
to compete in the wild. On the island of Isabela,
for example, at one stage, the goat population
reached a staggering 50,000 and the National Park authorities had to begin
an eradication programme. An eradication programme means
just get out and shoot these goats. By foot or by helicopter.
Who knows? But we have to kill them so the vegetation
can have a chance to recover. By 2002, Isabela was cleared
of its goat problem. and scientists
were cautiously optimistic that the tortoises might be able
to reclaim their territory.

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