The government of Ecuador is investing millions in a project dedicated to reintroducing 12 endemic bird and turtle species on the Galapagos archipelago, renowned for their astonishing biodiversity both on land and in the ocean.
In January 2024, Ecuador will launch a $3.4-million project not only to reintroduce the 12 endemic bird and turtle species – including giant turtles, vermillion flycatchers, barn owls, lava gulls, Galapagos hawks, and vegetarian finches – lost on the archipelago but also to eradicate invasive cats and rats on Floreana.
Due to its remote location – the Galapagos sits 965 km off the coast of Ecuador – the archipelago has remained unchanged since prehistoric times. The Ecuadorian government is adamant about bolstering conservation efforts to preserve not only the iconic Galapagos marine iguanas, albatrosses, and giant tortoises, but also Scalesia atractyloides – the rarest plant in the Galapagos and endemic to Santiago – and its relative S. stewartii. On the island of Floreana, a biodiversity laboratory will open to study invasive species like rats and cats. Indeed, the introduced rats will be eradicated in favor of endemic rats, while monitoring the vegetation to better understand the impact of these two rat species on plant communities.