First, we wiped out the females, because they were easier to catch due to the mating habits. Slowly but surely, we wiped them out by 1906.
Then, we got lucky - 66 years after the last giant tortoise was spotted, George was discovered (possibly again) by an invertebrate expert studying snails. He smartly snapped a photo, and shortly thereafter, Lonesome George became the most famous reptile in the world. The exhaustive search to find him a mate ensued and ultimately failed. We were unable to correct the mistakes of our forefathers.
Will we keep making those mistakes? Conservation isn't a fad, or political opinion: it's vital for the survival of the human species. This blue world is all we have.