(Photo from Galapagos.org) Chelonoidis phantasticus is one of the
15 known species of Galápagos Tortoise
One of the species of Galápagos Tortoise, Chelonoidis phantasticus, was recently rediscovered last February 17, 2019 by "[Washington] Tapia and a team of four rangers from the Galápagos National Park—Jeffreys Malaga, Eduardo Vilema, Roberto Ballesteros, and Simon Villamar—plus Biologist and Animal Planet Host Forrest (who funded the expedition) in a remote volcanic island in the Galapagos.
The Fernandina Tortoise was believed to be extinct since 1906 when a deceased male species was found during the California Academy of Sciences expedition. Since then the "The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had flagged the Fernandina giant tortoise on its Red List as possibly extinct," according to an article in National Geographic by Jill Langlois.
The team informed and reported the rediscovery of a female Fernandina Tortoise to the Turtle Conservatory right away. According to an interview with Anders Rhodin of the Turtle Conservancy by Fox News, "The photos from the team clearly show a moderately saddle-backed, old female about half to two-thirds the size of the known male. Pending genetic confirmation, this is almost undoubtedly the lost Fernandina Giant Tortoise."
(Photo from Galapagos.org) The rediscovered female Fernandina Tortoise
After the rediscovery of the once-believed extinct species of tortoise, its designation is now changed from extinct to "critically endangered". Tapia's team brought the female Fernandina Tortoise to a breeding center on Santa Cruz Island because the tortoise was underweight due to the scarcity of food food sources.
In total, there are 15 species of Galápagos Tortoise: 2 are already extinct and 12 have been marked as threatened with extinctions, the fifteenth species is said to be extinct but it was not officially listed because it was not formally announced.
(Photo by Christian Ziegler for Galapagos.org.uk) Galápagos Tortoise can
live up to 200 years and can grow up to 5 feet
The tortoises in are like "ecosystem engineers" because "they contribute to seed dispersal and mold the ecosystem," according to Tapia in an interview by National Geographic.
The rediscovery of the Chelonoidis Phantasticus species gave the Turtle Conservatory more hope in continuing their mission to conserve and preserve endangered turtle species.