Why Do We See Charles Darwin As An Old Man Lonesome George

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Lonesome George

One of the Galapagos Islands’ most famous residents, ‘Lonesome George’ truly is one of a kind. He is the only living tortoise of his species still left in the world. The problem, however, is to try and get ‘Lonesome George’ to become a father at the ripe old age of 100. Despite his impressive age he is actually said to be at his sexual peak, but scientists in the Galapagos National Park have been trying in vain since 1993 to get George to mate with one of his female companions of a similar but different species. If he fails to provide any offspring before he dies, his line will become extinct. So far, however, there has been no success to speak of.

In 2009, there was a glimmer of hope. One of the female tortoises laid five eggs – but unfortunately it turned out that these had not been fertilised. The problem continues to this day. ‘Lonesome George’, who weighs almost 15 stone, was originally a native of Pinta, an isolated northern island in the Galapagos archipelago. He was discovered in 1972 and immediately brought to the Charles Darwin Research Station on the island of Santa Cruz. The one time he astounded ecologists and did mate – the eggs laid unfortunately turned out to be infertile.

A visit to the Charles Darwin Research Centre is nowadays included in many of the Galapagos cruises that sail round the islands. These cruises are monitored closely to ensure they adhere to the highest possible eco-sensitive and green levels. Guests must also pay a Galapagos National Park fee. When visiting the Galapagos there are a number of different types of cruises available. From luxury cruises to the more basic type – you can certainly view the Galapagos in all its glory in comfort and luxury if you so wish.

From the moment the first settlers arrived on the isolated islands, off the coast of Ecuador, relatives of ‘Lonesome George’ have been hunted for their meat by sailors and fishermen, primarily because their fatty flesh provided plenty of energy for those long voyages back home. No one knows exactly how many giant tortoises there were originally, but it has been estimated that more than 100,000 were hunted in total over the centuries. This mass hunt has resulted in the loss of three races of giant tortoise. Let’s hope, therefore, that ‘Lonesome George’ can shake off his name and finally become a father.

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