The Island Conservation Society on the Seychelles Islands announced it has released 27 Aldabra giant tortoises (Geochelone gigantea) on the wild side
The Island Conservation Society on the Seychelles Islands announced it has released 27 Aldabra giant tortoises (Geochelone gigantea) on the wild side of Desroches Island. The release is part of the society’s captive breeding program that aims to ensure the long term survival of the species in the wild.
The release of the 27 tortoises occurred when the chelonians were about 9kg (19.8 lbs) each, rather than 25 kg (55.1 lbs).
“The 9 kg tortoises were seen as too heavy and big to be stolen. We had quite a lot of tortoises weighing 9 kg ready to be released into the wild. At this weight, the tortoises can fend for themselves and are not vulnerable from predation,” Fabienne Fardial, communications and public relations manager of ICS told the Seychelles News Agency.
“At 9 kg the tortoises have no threat except for falling coconuts and human activities. Moreover, these are very independent and resilient animals that have no problem searching and finding food in the wild,” Fardial said.
The tortoises were released in an area where there is an abundance of food for the reptiles and with less human interference.
The ICS launched the program to breed these tortoises in 2010 with just 55 individuals to ensure the survival of the species. Up to 20 adult tortoises are kept in a large breeding pen that officials check weekly to determine if any new nests are build. When a tortoise lays its eggs, the nest is left undisturbed and the eggs hatch naturally without human interference. Since 2010, 134 tortoises have been successfully bred.
Aldabra Tortoise Information
Aldabra tortoises are so named because of where they are found in the wild, the Aldabran Atoll off the coast of the Seychelles. The giant tortoises can weigh up to 500 pounds, making them one of the biggest tortoises in the world. The Galapagos tortoise is bigger. Mostly herbivores, the Aldabra tortoise feeds on grasses, leaves, plants, stems and weeds.
The tortoises were once found on most of the islands in the Indian Ocean. They were hunted for their meat and disappeared from Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion islands until 1900, when Charles Darwin offered to pay half the atoll’s lease to anyone who could ensure that the exploitation of the reptile was stopped. Aldabra Island has been managed by the Seychelles Islands Foundation since 1981 as a special reserve. It has been completely protected under the Seychelles National Parks and Nature Conservancy Act, and the giant tortoises have been monitored every month for the past 20 years.