RIP – Lonesome George

Why is it that the good ones always leave us too soon?

Lonesome George who was believed to be approximately 100 years of age and listed in The Guinness Book of Records as ‘the loneliest animal on the planet’, has died. Lonesome George was ‘discovered’ in 1972 and had become a symbol of Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, which attracted some 180,000 visitors last year. According to a spokesperson from the Galapagos National Park, George was the last member of a species of giant tortoise from La Pinta, one of the smallest islands in the Galapagos. The giant Galapagos tortoises are said to be among the species that helped Charles Darwin formulate his theory of evolution in the 19th century.

George, a saddleback tortoise, was easily the most well-known resident of the Islands and was the subject of a BBC documentary back in 2007. Lonesome George and the Battle for Galapagos will be airing over the next few weeks on a number of public television stations across the U.S. as a tribute to George. ***KERA in North Texas will air on Saturday, June 30 at 6:00pm.***

The documentary explores the issues that surround the co-existence of human and animal populations on the environmentally precious Galapagos islands. The film tells George’s story against the backdrop of the bigger conservation issues faced by the islands.

Unfortunately, the Pinta tortoise has been heavily hunted, and the islands have long been invaded by non-native species which push out the local wildlife. Even tourists, who come here partly to see the famous George, have added to the problems. There is an enormous struggle going on to restore the islands’ unique biodiversity, but not everyone loves George: local fishermen who want to protect their rights to fish in Galápagos’ protected waters have seized on him as a focus for their frustrations; meanwhile conservation efforts need to be balanced with an economy based on letting tourists in.

In: Odds & Sods