Conservation and Environment in Ecuador: Monthly Updates
Conservation in Ecuador – Monthly Updates: October – November 2014
Giant Tortoise Breeding Center
At the giant tortoise breeding centre on San Cristobal Island, highly aggressive plant species such as Mora (Rubbus nuvius), guava (Psidium guajava L.) and Supirrosa (Lantana camera) have been controlled. This was carried out in the areas where giant tortoises nest. It is important to keep this specific area free of introduced plants to make it easier to locate the nests and collect eggs, and there will be more room for the endemic plants to flourish which grow in this protected area. We also fed the tortoises and cleaned the pools they drink water from as well as the platforms they feed on. We also marked numbers on the young ones so that we can better monitor and control the population. To help with their diet, we are working in the forest area of the Galapagos National Park (GNP) in order to control mulberry plants and have been planting OTOY (Xanthosoma sagittifolium), which is a plant that is part of their diet. We are making sure that we will have enough food for them for next year, and are growing food which is safe for them.
Galapagos National Park Nursery
We are working in the GNP nursery where officials are collecting seeds of native plants in the forest, and collecting endemic seedlings such as Miconia (Miconia robinsoniana). We are preparing the substrate to fill bags where we will place the seeds and collected seedling, and begin performing reforestation in areas affected by the introduced plants mentioned above. 1200 Miconia seedlings were collected and are growing in the nursery, waiting to be reforested in the area around Junco Lagoon.
Galapagos Petrel (Pterodroma pheaopygia)
At the top of San Cristobal Island, at a height of 450 meters, we have been carrying out activities to control rats (Rattus rattus) which are affecting the population of the Galapagos Petrel, an endemic species that is endangered by the presence of this rodent, other species such as cats, and introduced plants which block their nesting area. We conducted surveys at different nesting sites and prepared poisoned food to eliminate the ground dwelling animals in order to help the bird population increase satisfactorily.
El Progreso Nursery
We continue to grow endemic, native plants to be reforested in urban areas and to be planted in the grounds of various schools. We collected seeds in the arid and coastal areas of the island and have carried out reforestation with Red Mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) on the beaches near the town to promote conservation and send a message to the community about how we can help the environment.
Research: Monitoring Sea Lions and Iguanas and Bird Watching.
We performed different monitoring tasks to obtain more data about the populations of sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki), marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) and endemic birds that exist on the beaches near the port, as well as to gather information about human activities as the populations of these animals are endangered by the presence of humans and introduced animals. It is important to perform these activities to understand the dynamics of these populations in order to see if they are growing or shrinking. We are creating a database of the various populations of birds we encounter in different places to find out the size of each species. The data is very important since it reveals information that can help us to take corrective action and decisions to help conserve the island’s endemic species.
We are helping the GNP with various coastal cleanups in strategically demarcated areas. These areas have high concentrations of oceanic garbage and are also the places where we find populations of endemic fauna. We are creating a database so that we can study how much trash is found on the island. We are aiming to help the conservation of the island’s fragile ecosystems and promote the conservation of the natural resources we have here.
The health of the giant tortoises is good in their nesting areas, and introduced plants have been monitored.
We planted 500 OTOY plants to have enough food for next year, and prepared 500 holes which are ready for the planting of OTOY seedlings in the coming weeks.
We have gathered seeds and seedlings to germinate and perform reforestation.
We have cleaned beaches and removed debris that may affect endemic animals.
We have reforested areas that had introduced plants with native ones.
We have gathered data about different populations of endangered endemic animals.
Until next time…
Conservation Manager, Ecuador