How an ‘extinct’ tortoise was rediscovered after a century
The Fernandina giant tortoise disappeared more than 100 years ago. Now there is hope its population could return.
When Washington Tapia found a Fernandina giant tortoise on its namesake island in the Galápagos, it was like winning an Academy Award.
"For me it was the most important achievement of my life because I have been working on tortoise conservation for 30 years," says the director of the nonprofit Galápagos Conservancy's Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative (GTRI) and leader of the expedition. "This was basically my Oscar."
Tapia and a team of four rangers from the Galápagos National Park—Jeffreys Malaga, Eduardo Vilema, Roberto Ballesteros, and Simon Villamar—
plus Forrest Galante, a host and biologist with Animal Planet, which funded the expedition, were overwhelmed when they found the female Chelonoidis phantasticus on Fernandina, an active shield volcano and the youngest of the