And so tragic news has broken – Giant tortoise Lonesome George, last of his subspecies, has died.
I first encountered George’s story in Lonesome George: The Life and Loves of the World’s Most Famous Tortoise, which is the sad story of how you go about trying to save a species that just doesn’t want to reproduce. Looks like the inevitable has finally caught up with the Pinta giant tortoise.
I guess the whole thing raises important questions – how far should conservationists invest limited funds and resources into saving species that, apparently, don’t ‘want’ to be saved? A similar argument is made for giant pandas who, while cute, have to be among the most awkward animals on Earth.
But then, maybe humans should be paying penance – after all, George’s ancestors were hunted and eaten to the edge of extinction by our ancestors. It’s not like we don’t have a bad habit of blundering in and destroying the ecological balance of everywhere we go. A hundred or so years later and it’s our fault that the sole surviving member of a particular species is an individual with the sex drive of a brick. It feels like some sort of karmic irony.
I have no conclusions. I’m just sad and apprehensive about what we’ve done to our world.
Rest in peace George.