Monday, June 25, 2012

Farewell, Lonesome George and the La Pinta giant tortoise subspecies

Lonesome George, the last known survivor of the La Pinta giant tortoise subspecies, has died.  His kind is no more.  Extinct.  We've lent hand to the annihilation of another type of living being - giant Galapagos tortoises were often used as a reliable food source on ships, due to their ability to live without food or water for up to a year. 

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.  

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