Editor's note

Scientists have documented five mass extinctions in Earth’s history – events when abnormally large numbers of species died out at the same time or during a short period. Many think we are entering a sixth mass extinction now, driven by climate change, habitat destruction and other human impacts on the planet.

That makes the international effort to save the Galapagos Islands’ giant tortoises especially encouraging. SUNY ESF biologist James Gibbs, who has been involved in this work for years, describes the innovative techniques that have helped bring tortoises back from the brink, such as “head-starting” hatchlings in captivity and releasing them after they grow to predator-proof size. There is much work still to do, but at least in this case, humans are reversing the damage done by some of their predecessors.

Jennifer Weeks

Editor, Environment and Energy

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Giant tortoise on Pinzon Island, Galapagos. Rory Stansbury, Island Conservation/Flickr

Galapagos giant tortoises make a comeback, thanks to innovative conservation strategies

James P. Gibbs, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry

The Galapagos Islands' giant tortoises are one of the world's best examples of evolution. Scientists are pioneering new conservation strategies to save them from extinction and restore their habitat.

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