Ancient Galapagos tortoise makes slow trip through mudhole
Galapagos tortoise are enormous creatures that are incredible to watch. They are the largest living species of tortoises, reaching an incredible weight of up to 417kg (919lbs). They are among the oldest living creatures on earth, possibly having a life span of up to 200 years. These tortoise are descended from giant tortoises in Africa. It is believed that they drifted across the ocean on rafts of vegetation long ago. They are able to survive for up to a year without access to fresh water or food. Few animals would be capable of an extremely lengthy journey like this. Since their arrival in the Galapagos Islands, the tortoises have adapted to life in unique climates. Each sub species on each island has different characteristics that demonstrate their evolution to meet the challenges of their habitat and conditions. This giant male has found a place to drink and cool off on a hot day. He wanders through this mud hole in the company of several other tortoises. The tortoises here wander freely over the island, grazing on vegetation in the highlands and making a long trek to the coast to lay their eggs. The people of the Galapagos Islands have a healthy respect for these majestic creatures. Giant tortoise populations declines drastically over the last two centuries due to overharvesting of the tortoises for meat, as well as habitat encroachment by humans. In recent years, the tortoises have been making a comeback due to conservation efforts. Captive breeding and the banning of harvesting tortoises has increased their numbers significantly.