The Galapagos archipelago is a string of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean, some 600 miles (965 kilometres) off the coast of Ecuador.
The Galapagos archipelago is a string of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean, some 600 miles (965 kilometres) off the coast of Ecuador. Scientists are still arguing about how they were formed - but one fact is beyond dispute -- the islands' situation made it possible for an abundance of wild life to develop unmolested and make special adaption to the unusual environment.
SYNOPSIS: By 20th century standards the Galapagos are still a haven of emptiness and quiet. Here, over many centuries, strange plants and animals evolved with special characteristics for survival. This land iguana, for example, eats much salter food than its mainland brothers, and it thrives on the prickly pear cactus. There were once thousands of giant tortoises, but early whalers all but annihilated them. Now only careful conservation ensures their survival.
The same story of destruction can be told about many other species on the Galapagos. When the 19th century naturalist Charles Darwin landed on the islands and drew from them the inspiration for his influential work on the evolution of mankind, "Origin of the Species", he described one island that was so thick in vegetation it took two days to walk to the centre.
The Foundation removes tortoise eggs, rears them in incubators and raises them after hatching. Only when they are five years old are the young creatures strong enough to withstand attacks from dogs. Likewise the land iguanas. Scientists on the Galapagos Islands have cultivated the eggs in incubators and they say this is the first time it has been achieved successfully in the world.