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Conservation At Galapagos Islands

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Galapagos and its Ecosystem

Galapagos Islands consist of a group of nineteen individual islands 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador (Duval, 2006). Total land area of Galapagos is 8,000 square kilometers. The Spanish sailors named the island “Galapagos” because of the enormous tortoise living in the islands. Ecuador has claimed the islands as part of its territory. In 1835, Charles Darwin visited the islands and observed the many different species of animals that lived there. This was where he based his work of origins and human evolution as he observed many varieties of birds and other animals different from his own. Along the coasts, marine animals such as seal lions, penguins, and rock crabs are usually seen enjoying the sun. Other inhabitants of the island include cormorant, finches, boobies, and the giant tortoise. Strange reptiles like the saw-toothed iguanas and lava lizards are also observed around the islands.

Over the last 20 years, human presence grew in the islands. Settlers began to arrive in waves from different countries and continents. As whaling became popular around the island, it also brought in seal-hunters. During the World War, an Air Force base was built on the island of Baltra. The development of tourism and fishing industry caused the local population to expand to 28,000 (Galapagos Coservancy, n.d.). One of the islands of Galapagos, the Santa Cruz, has the largest number of human inhabitants. In 2005, the population was up to 30,000.

The growing population of the Galapagos Islands was very detrimental to the islands’ ecosystem. The whalers used the giant tortoise as food (Galapagos Conservation, 2007). The tortoises were also sold for their oil. A good amount of the tortoise was consumed to almost extinction. The settlers brought with them a wide range of domestic animals, many of which are now roaming around in the wild. Domestic animals like dogs, cats, goats, and even rats have consuming native reptiles, birds, and other animals as food. They have brought with them also plants and other trees, which were left to grown and compete with native plants. These plants would then compete and outgrow the native plants. There were also new diseases that were introduced to the island by the animals and plants that the settlers have brought in. With more settlers coming in, it put pressure on the islands depleting natural resources. If this continues the native ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands will seize to exist.

The environmental pressures put forth by the growing population in the island caused some concerns with national and international communities. In 1959, the Equadorian government made the Galapagos Islands a National Park to protect the flora and fauna of the islands (Duval, 2006). The government put a special law to restrict andy more immigration to the island. It even put restrictions on tourism. With intentions in saving the islands ecosystem, the Charles Darwin Foundation was formed (Galapagos Conservation, 2007). Santa Cruz became a based resident for the Charles Darwin Research Station. Between 2002 and 2007, there have been efforts to eradicate feral goats, which endanger native plant and animal life. Actions have been taken against the growing population of domestic and wild



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