It is estimated there are between 9,000 to 10,000 Galapagos tortoises remaining on the Galapagos archipelago that lies off the coast of Ecuador.
At one time, there were 14 sub-species of Galapagos tortoises, however today only 11 sub-species remain. The main reason for the decline over the years is due to the centuries of humans killing them for food. This started in the 1600’s, when mariners first reached the islands, and continued well into the 20 th century.
Because the Galapagos tortoise is fully protected within the boundries of the Galapagos National Park, being eaten by humans is now not the biggest threat. However, being eaten by introduced species, such as dogs, cats, and rats is. Also, competing with other species for food is a concern as well.
In an effort to help the tortoise population grow, tortoise eggs are incubated at a research center, and hatchlings are raised there until big enough to contend with the rats, dogs, cats, and pigs.