Pinta Island (Isla Pinta), Galapagos Islands
The original home to Lonesome George, perhaps the most famous tortoise in the Galapagos Islands, Isla Pinta is also known as Abingdon Island. The ninth largest island in the archipelago, Isla Pinta has no real visitor or tourists sites, and while there are plenty of places to land here, researchers require a special permit to go ashore from the national park authorities.
A tiny island measuring just 60 sq km in area, Isla Pinta is home to swallow-tailed gulls, marine iguanas, sparrow hawks, fur seals and a number of other birds and mammals. The most northern island in the Galapagos, at one time Isla Pinta had a thriving tortoise population. However, over the years to due poaching of these gentle giants by fishermen and whalers, the number of these tortoises has diminished greatly. Today, Lonesome George is the last remaining subspecies of tortoise from Isla Pinta, and though many efforts have been made to breed him with other tortoises, they have so far been unsuccessful.
With goats being introduced on to these islands in 1958 by local fisher folk, a great deal of harm was caused to the natural habitat of Isla Pinta. The goats not only ate up all the plants and shrubs here, but also brought various diseases to the island, which in turn effected other animals.