Experts use videocameras to study tortoise behaviour in Galapagos

May 17th, 2009 - 7:53 pm ICT by IANS  

National Geographic Quito, May 17 (EFE) Scientists have fitted videocameras on three giant tortoises in Galapagos National Park in Ecuador to understand the behaviour of these ancient animals.
The project “consists of attaching a videocamera, known as Crittercam, to the shells of three giant tortoises”, park officials said in a statement Saturday.

Scientists expect to obtain videos of tortoise behaviour hitherto unknown to them, Washington Tapia, head of the park’s conservation department, said.

“The goal is to test whether this technology will allow us to obtain pictures… for example, of what they do at night, during the mating season, seasonal migrations and other phenomena,” he added.

The cameras will remain attached to the tortoises for three weeks during the experimental phase.

Once the information is obtained, the content will be analysed and “if it turns out to be very useful, other cameras will be designed with superior capacity for collecting information”, he said.

The use of Crittercams on wild animals is not new. The cameras were previously fitted on species such as lions, sharks and birds, and have yielded “excellent results”, although this is the first time they will be tried on the giant tortoises, the statement said.

The project is being carried out in collaboration with the Charles Darwin Scientific Foundation, Germany’s Max Planck Institute, and the National Geographic Society.

The Galapagos Islands, some 1,000 km west of the Ecuadorian coast, were made famous by 19th-century British naturalist Charles Darwin, whose observations of life on the islands contributed greatly to his theory of the evolution of species.

Ninety-five percent of the Galapagos archipelago, about 8,000 sq km, constitutes a protected area, which is home to more than 50 species of animals and birds that are found nowhere else on the planet.

In 1978, the Galapagos National Park was declared a World Heritage site.

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