Tortoise hit by car

In what appears to be a first for Galapagos, a giant tortoise was hit and killed by a car on Thursday (26 January) on Santa Cruz Island, outside the town of Puerto Ayora.  This sad "first" is no doubt linked to increasing population in the islands, along with the increasing number of vehicles plying its roads.   Even though the importation of vehicles from the continent is strictly controlled, the numbers are going up significantly.  

Not a big fan of land based tourism, I can't help but make the link between the fact that the number of land based visitors to the islands has gone from as little as 5,000 per year in the early 1990's, to nearly 200,000 per year today - and this incident.   Land based tourism has been driving a frenzy of hotel / restaurant / hostel construction - giving Galapagos an "El Dorado" glow, attracting people from the continent and increasing overall activity.   By contrast, shipped based tourism has remained flat (it has even dropped by 1% in the past 5 years according to Galapagos tourism statistics). 

There has been a vociferous "anti-speeding" outcry on Facebook on the part of Galapagos residents following this incident - an encouraging sign that people there recognize the meaning of this event and that they recognize the value of their wildlife.  

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