Tortoises in Ecuador
By: Iyanni Howard
The tortoises in the Gálapagos are the largest of their species but are sadly endangered. The reason they are endangered is because they were hunted by pirates, whalers, and merchantmen during the 17th, 18th, and 19th century. Some of them are even more than 5 feet & over 550 pounds. There are currently only 11 types of giant tortoises remaining in the Gálapagos. The average life span of this tortoise in the wild is 100 years. They've been protected by the Ecuadorian government since 1970.
Giant tortoises are vegetarian and can fast for long periods of time. They sleep for approximately 16 hours each day. They keep cool by taking mudbaths or by partly submerging itself in water. They can go without water for long periods of time without drinking water by obtaining most moisture from dew. They have a relationship of commensalism with finches. Finches eat the ticks and parasites from the tortoises skin.
History of the Tortoises
Out of all the native species from the island the tortoises were the second most harmed right after the endemic rice rats. When hunters found out about their special ability to survive without water up to a year they stored tortoises so they could have fresh meat on voyages. Another cause of their endangerment is because of humans using them for oil. They used the oil to light lamps in Quito. Lastly, some tortoises suffer from predation.
Lonesome George the Galapagos Tortoise - Explore - BBC