5-speed listening (Level 3)

Galapagos tortoises out of danger



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Giant Galapagos tortoises used to be a symbol for endangered animals. In the 1960s, there were just 15 of the animals in existence. They were dying out because wild goats were eating their food and damaging their habitat. This caused conservationists to take action to help them. Forty years later, the tortoises are doing well. There are over 1,000 of them living and breeding in the wild. Scientists say it is a conservation success story. Conservationist James Gibb said: "What we basically found over time is that about half of the tortoises that were released have survived." Mr Gibbs added: "That’s actually pretty amazing." Gibbs said the tortoises can now survive without human help.

Giant tortoises used to live all over the world. People hunted them and destroyed their habitat, so they almost became extinct. Giant tortoise numbers fell from over 250,000 in the 16th century to just a few thousand in the 1970s. Giant tortoises can weigh up to 250 kg and can live in the wild for over 100 years. One tortoise lived in captivity for more than 170 years. Wikipedia says: "Tortoises also live very uncomplicated lives, and can nap up to 16 hours a day." Mr Gibbs said the conservation story in the Galapagos Islands would continue. Next year, a small island that lost all of its tortoises a few years ago will get 200 tortoises. Gibbs is looking forward to "another success".

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