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The Weekly Photo Challenge asked us what we treasure….
We treasure each other and our families of course. But for this challenge, we are showing another thing we treasure: the world around us.
The one experience that we both hold dear is when we were able see Lonesome George in his last months on earth. Lonesome George was the last of the Pinta Island tortoises and is the Galapagos Island conservation icon.
He represents to us how precious and vulnerable nature is and how much we need to treasure it!
We all are aware of Darwin’s theory of evolution. It is from his time spent in the Galapagos Islands that helped him arrive at this theory. However this isn’t about his theory, its about the animals behind his theory.
There are two ways one can get around the Galapagos Islands. The first is to take a cruise (which is the popular way) after flying in from Quito and the second is to island hop. We chose the latter and after speaking to the locals, this is their preference too. Island hopping allows the money from tourism to be pumped back into the islands and its people as opposed to cruises where the money returns to the cruise companies. The examples that were given to us by one of our guides was that if tourists chose to island hop, they would eat on the island and sleep on shore therefore a cascade of benefits would follow (in terms of employment for the locals and economy boost).
Anyway, economy aside and how ever the Galapagos Islands are explored, there is no doubting that it is a wonderland of fauna and flora. There were many occasions where we would see several species of birds perched together (diversity). Or other occasions where we saw numerous animals of the same species (abundance). And probably the sweetest thing is getting up close with the animals. Obviously there are rules about touching them and staying a certain distance away from them but when we were with the guides, we went off their cues. There were times when we had sea lions frolicking in the water beside our boat, marine iguanas scurrying past us and blue-footed boobies happily perched on rocks a mere metre away without even blinking an eyelid at us.
With all the wildlife and wonderful encounters also comes with the need for conservation. The conservation messages are reinforced and there is a big drive to preserve the environment for us and for the animals. For us, seeing Lonesome George, the last of his species was a humbling experience. To think that there once were 14 species of tortoises in the Galapagos and now only 11, and being on the verge of down to 10. The Galapagos is a place worth visiting to remind us of how animals and humans can live in harmony and how important it is to look after the planet for future generations to enjoy!
For photos dedicated to all the animals, see the Galapagos Islands album in Photo Gallery