‘Rewilding’ plan will restore the Galápagos ecosystem

When Charles Darwin visited the Galápagos Islands in 1835, he took notes on a brown chicken later known as the Floreana mockingbird, which was widespread all through an island that shared its title. Fifty years later, after the space had been colonized and feral cats and rodents had arrived with people, the chicken had disappeared from the island.

Now, a brand new $43 million initiative, backed partly by Leonardo DiCaprio, hopes to deliver the chicken again, together with different species that at the moment are domestically extinct. Re:Wild, the new group, is supporting a significant effort to “rewild” the space.

[Photo: courtesy Island Conservation]

Island Conservation, a nonprofit already working in the Galápagos, will use the funding to scale up its work. In the case of the mockingbird, that will imply going to 2 smaller islands the place a tiny inhabitants of the species nonetheless exists, and relocating a few of the birds. It will additionally imply first eliminating the invasive species that would kill them.

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[Photo: courtesy Island Conservation]

The nonprofit beforehand ran the same effort on one other island, the place eliminating rodents helped tortoises get better as a result of the rats had been now not consuming tortoise eggs. “We had been in a position to take away invasive species, and the ecosystems had been restoring themselves,” says Paula Castaño, an island restoration specialist with Island Conservation who lives in the Galápagos. “And we had been in a position to see big tortoises—lastly, after 150 years, they had been breeding and surviving in the wild, which they didn’t do for a very long time.”

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[Photo: courtesy Island Conservation]

The brand new marketing campaign will additionally give attention to the pink iguana, an endangered lizard that presently lives solely on an area volcano. “As a result of it’s an energetic volcano, the volcano can simply erupt and you may doubtlessly lose the inhabitants eternally,” Castaño says. The nonprofit will start a captive breeding program, since solely round 300 animals are left. In whole, the marketing campaign plans to reintroduce 13 totally different species, together with the mockingbird and iguana, that at the moment are domestically extinct on Floreana Island.

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[Photo: courtesy Island Conservation]

Most of the Galápagos is a nationwide park and comparatively pristine. However Re:Wild plans to do comparable work in different components of the world which can be extra developed. “We have to shield the wild that’s left and restore the relaxation,” says Robin Moore, vp of communications for Re:Wild. “Whereas some areas contribute disproportionately to world biodiversity and want urgently to be protected, it is very important rewild these areas which have misplaced a lot of their biodiversity—together with in and round cities.”