The recent discussion on the future display location for Lonesome George, once he leaves the American Museum of Natural History in January, is clearly a matter for the Ecuadorians to decide upon. Whether it is Quito or Galapagos, perhaps the most compelling part of the story is the ability of George, conservation icon, to still make headlines. If by being so he can help preserve other species from extinction, and support the conservation of habitats in Galapagos, Ecuador and globally, his impact goes far beyond one of physical location.
There are only a few other species/individuals that can command such headlines; Baby Lubya, the woolly mammoth from the Siberian tundra or the Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger perhaps. George, however, represents a far more recent example of species extinction at the hands of man – by being so he engages a new generation in the battle to conserve our natural world. There is no doubt that George was a splendid individual and his story was both sad and heartening in equal measures. Lonesome maybe, certainly the last of his kind, but also able to galvanise an increased awareness of how widely we are affecting our planet. Isolated, oceanic archipelagos feel the impact of our footfall as much as, or indeed more so, than continental environments.
In Galapagos today there is a major multi-institutional programme, supported in the coming season by funding from the Galapagos Conservation Trust, to save the mangrove finch. With only 80 left in existence I wonder whether a last remaining individual, were we to get to this point, might warrant the same attention as George. As a small brown unassuming little finch I doubt it would but its loss would be as serious as that of George’s line of Pinta tortoise.
Let’s therefore both regret the loss of George but also build on his legacy, wherever he ends up, for the benefit of future generations of humans and animals – all of us solely dependent on this planet. You can help achieve this by donating with our commitment that we’ll use your support to maximum effect for the long term conservation of Galapagos.
Watch a short video by the American Museum of Natural History about preserving Lonesome George:
by Ian Dunn, Chief Executive
Photo’s courtesy of the Galapagos Conservancy (©JargaPix Photography)