Earlier this week, it was reported that the last remaining giant Pinta Island Tortoise Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni, had died. His name was Lonesome George and he was around 100 years old, which isn’t particularly old for a tortoise. He was approximately 200 pounds and 5 feet long. This is indeed sad news for the world, as yet another endangered species is most probably extinct.
It is not sure why he died, however they believe he may have suffered a heart attack. His caretaker, Fausto Llerena, found him stretched out towards his watering hole. An autopsy is planned to determine the cause of death.
These tortoises are thought to have originated over 10 million years ago and Lonesome George is believed to have been the last of his particular subspecies. Their home and where they were discovered was the Galapagas Islands. However they (along with many of the other animals there) were almost hunted to extinction by seal hunters and whalers in the 19th century.
Lonesome George was discovered in 1972, at a time when his kind were already thought to be extinct. At that point they relocated him from his current home on Pinta Island, to Santa Cruz Island to live out his life with his caretaker. Attempts to breed him were made several times, however were never successful. Hence his name, Lonesome George!
The Galapagos National Park Service is planning an international workshop sometime in July to begin looking at strategies for increasing and restoring populations of tortoises over the next 10 years.