Chelonoidis phantasticus, was the species of tortoise from Fernandina Island that was found in its natural habitat after 100 years of believing itself extinct.
This discovery was made by an expedition of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative (GTRI), a project implemented jointly by the Director of the Galapagos National Park and the Galapagos Conservancy, which had as one of the goals to locate the enigmatic turtle.
The Minister of the Environment, said that the Galapagos National Park “has the full support from the National Government and the Ministry of Environment to develop the research deemed necessary to ensure the conservation and preservation of the species that host the Islands Galapagos. “
The turtle was found on Sunday February 17, 2019, in a patch of vegetation in the lower area of Fernandina Island. It is an adult female that possibly exceeds one hundred years. Washington Tapia, Director of the GTRI and leader of the expedition indicated that genetic studies will be carried out to reconfirm that the individual found is of the Fernandina Island species.
The specimen was transported by boat, from Fernandina, located west of the archipelago, to the Giant Turtle Breeding Center in Santa Cruz, and will remain in the custody of the park rangers, in a specially implemented pen for their stay.
Jeffeys Malaga and Washington Tapia, made the discovery, believe that it is possible the existence of more individuals in Fernandina, because they found traces and excrements in other areas of the island, separated by lava flows of recent eruptions.
Fernandina is one of the youngest and pristine island of the archipelago. It has an area of 638 square kilometers, becoming the third largest in the Galapagos archipelago. Its volcano, La Cumbre, is one of the most active in the world.