Sunday, November 1, 2009

El Chato Tortoise Reserve, Isla Santa Cruz

El Chato Tortoise Reserve provided us with an interesting opportunity to see giant tortoises in a semi wild state. These tortoises were clearly not as accustomed to humans as those in the Charles Darwin research station.

...little does Josh know, he is about to be charged by a raging giant tortoise.

A relaxing mud bath to escape the heat. Some tortoises looked like they hadn't moved in weeks.

mating tortoises, viewer discretion is advised

From almost a kilometre away we could hear what sounded like a dying elephant. We followed the sound until we encountered a female tortoise who had been cornered in the underbrush by a male (noise maker) twice her size.

Unfortunately less than one percent of giant tortoise eggs survive in the wild as a result of introduced rats, fire ants, and dogs who eat their eggs. For this reason, researchers from the Charles Darwin Research Centre search for eggs layed in the wild in order to incubate and hatch them in an environment safe from introduced predators who the tortoises have not evolved defenses against. Once the baby tortoises reach a size that allows them to defend themselves against the jaws of man's best friend they are released back into the wild.

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