You may, like many of us, recently enjoyed following The Prince of Wales - Prince Charles and his wife Camila - Duchess of Cornwall, as they travel around the Galapagos Islands.
In particular as they met with Lonesome George, the world’s most famous 80 year old tortoise!
The Prince and Duchess of Cornwall were welcomed by Lonesome George on the first full day of their visit to the Galapagos, before continuing on their ten-day tour of South America. Rather than being met with a courtesy call from the head of state at their presidential palace; on Galapagos, Prince Charles is welcomed by the wonderful Lonesome George in his enclosure at the Charles Darwin Research Foundation.
In the meantime read up on some fascinating Galapagos facts here:
- An archipelago of 19 islands, 42 islets and at least 26 emergent rocks, 600 miles off Ecuador. Most of the islands formed by summits of volcanoes, some rising 3,000ft from the floor of the Pacific Ocean.
- Though there is speculation that the islands were discovered by the Incas, the first documented visit was made by the Bishop of Panama, whose ship was becalmed en route to Peru in 1535. He reported foolishly tame wildlife, among them giant tortoises, “galapagos”
- Charles Darwin visited aboard the Beagle in 1835, noting the evolution of finches and mockingbirds
- In 1959 the Ecuadorean Government set aside 90 per cent of the islands as a national park
- Most species of plants and animals are endemic to the islands, most have at least two subspecies, adapted to suit different islands
- Tourism has boosted visitors numbers, from 4,000 in 1970 to roughly 60,000 per year, presenting challenges for conservationists
- Galapagos Conservancy estimates that three species of reptile and four species of birds are critically endangered, and nearly 60 per cent of the islands plant species are close to extinction, threatened by goats and invasive plants
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