QUITO: A species of Galapagos giant tortoise thought to have been made extinct 150 years ago will be bred in captivity, officials said, after DNA studies showed specimens discovered in the last decade shared similar genetic makeup.

The breeding programme involving 32 tortoises – 19 of which are descended from the Chelonoidis nigra species in question – will allow for medium-term repopulation of their native Floreana Island, the Galapagos Islands National Park said on Wednesday (Sep 13).

The Chelonoidis nigra species was wiped out on Floreana Island by whalers who took them on ships as food, abandoning some on the slopes of Isabela Island’s Wolf Volcano to lighten their load.

Species with similar genetics have since been found on Isabela Island, where researchers from the National Park and Galapagos Conservancy analysed 150 tortoises during expeditions in 2008 and 2015.

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