Previously extinct bird, gecko populations from the Galapagos Islands have reappeared


A bird species never before seen on the islands has also been discovered.

ByJulia Jacobo
December 16, 2022, 3:49 AM

Two species that were previously extinct on the Galapagos Islands have reappeared a decade after an invasive predator population was eradicated, showing how impactful restoring and re-wilding ecosystems can be for addressing some of the world’s environmental and biodiversity crises, according to scientists.

Locally extinct cactus finches and geckos are now “thriving” in their restored habitats, according to biologists who recently traveled to the Rabida and Pinzon islands in the Galapagos to monitor the wildlife recovery 10 years after the removal of an invasive rodent species, according to¬†Island Conservation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on preventing extinctions by removing invasive species from islands.

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There have been frequent sightings of the cactus finches on Pinzon Island, a species considered extinct from the region for more than four decades.

A healthy population of geckos, known only from subfossil records dating back more than 5,000 years, have recolonized Rabida Island. Scientists believe that they were likely present but in such small numbers that they weren’t able to track the populations, Paula Castano, native species manager at Island Conservation, told ABC News.

PHOTO: A Cactus Finch.
A Cactus Finch.
Island Conservation

Scientists have also documented the presence of Galapagos rails, known locally as pachays, an endemic bird never before reported on this island, on the upper part of Pinzon Island. The researchers believe the rails could have migrated from Santiago Island, another island in the Galapagos, and has now found Pinzon Island to be the ideal habitat to establish itself now that the invasive predatory species is gone.