Giant Galapagos Tortoises are unbelievably large animals. Fully grown, they would fill the passenger compartment of a small car. Weighing up to 227kg (500lb), they are slow moving, but very powerful. These tortoises are believed capable of living up to 200 years. This means that a large specimen like this one might have been alive when Charles Darwin made his famous voyage on the HMS Beagle in 1835, leading him to discoveries that shaped his theories of evolution.
This is a wild tortoise that lives on San Cristobal Island. Part of a thriving population, the tortoises are well respected here. He is making his way along a trail in a wooded area. An environmentalist who is capturing footage of the tortoises left a small camera on the trail to see what it would record. This giant male walked up to, and right over the camera, showing that once moving, they are reluctant to deviate from their course. They lack agility and seemingly, the interest in taking the time to go around objects. But the tortoises choice made for some unique and interesting footage of his underside that would have been difficult to see otherwise.
Tortoises lay eggs each year, although few survive, due to their vulnerability when they are young. They cannot outrun even the slowest of predators, and they are not equipped to fight. Their only defense is to retreat inside their thick shells and wait for the predator to tire and leave. Capable of going without food and water for up to one year, they can outwait any creature on the planet.
What ensures the survival of this species is their longevity. It is only due to the fact that a mature tortoise has so many breeding seasons that it can lay enough eggs for an adequate number to survive the early years.
Hunted almost to extinction for their meat, these tortoises are slowly making a comeback, largely thanks to protective laws and conservation efforts.