In the vast Pacific Ocean, one finds a wonder of the natural and geological world – the beautiful and unique Galapagos Islands. The name stems from no other than the animal wonder that inhabits them, the giant tortoise, found by the 16th hundred Spanish explorers, who named it “Insulae de los Galopegos” – Islands of the Tortoises.
Just last year, scientists made the discovery of a whole new giant tortoise species on the Galapagos. The new species was originally thought to be another well-known kind, but scientists noticed differences amongst the tortoises. After a decade of research, the new species was named “Chelonoidis donfaustoi”. Only a few hundred are known to be left of the kind, thus making the conversation efforts ever more important.
The Galapagos has due to its unique nature been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites List since 1979 to limit tourism and help preserve one of the most unique ecosystems in the World. Many of the reptiles on these Islands have for years been endangered due to fisheries, harvests, habitat loss, climate change and pollution. Many of the species are placed as vulnerable to extinction, and thus the conversation of their habitats has consistently been of great importance to their survival.
On the largest island, Isabela, you will find our Galapagos Community & Conservation Volunteer Project. Volunteers work with an organisation that has committed to keeping the natural heritage of the islands intact. Started out now almost 10 years ago, the project has developed into an important initiative that together with local communities tries to make a positive impact on the future of the Island.
If you ever decide to make the way to this beautiful Island, you will have several volunteer options to choose from depending on your interests and passion. It can include duties like feeding and caring for tortoises, maintaining their enclosure, while also potentially educating tourists about the rules related to engaging with and protecting the animals. You can also choose the opportunity to participate in one of their academic programs, where you will be engaged directly with the Island community. This can be everything from beach clean-ups, teaching English, to working in sustainable gardening or with social media – the opportunities are numerous!
While you spend your days being surrounded by plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet, this project wants you to “make a difference, etch some memories, and tell the story of a lifetime”. Take your chance to be part of empowering local communities to live in a sustainable way, protecting one of the most ancient reptile species, and have an adventure of your life living and exploring some of the World’s most unique Islands.
If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering with tortoises in the Galapagos, please click here.
By WorkingAbroad Blog Writer Charlotte Laursen