Politics, Sci-Tech

The most dangerous animal on the Galápagos

By Branko Brkic 6 October 2009

Not the cute bird, of course. We have met the enemy, and WE are it.

Increased garbage is evidence that people are thriving at the expense of this unique environment crucial to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.  The twin demands for environmental protection and economic growth mean these islands are a visible example of the global struggle between ecological protection and economic growth for the third world’s poor.

The Galápagos Islands’ population has doubled in the last ten years, and this worries biologists about the harm it is causing to the isles’ unique flora and fauna. Although the Ecuadorian government continues to encourage tourism – and the foreign exchange income it provides – it is beginning to expel people, making these isolated islands a front line in the conflict between development and environmental protection. The Galápagos are already on the UN’s list of endangered heritage sites, even though 95% of the islands are a national park.  Key problems include fuel spills, poaching and the introduction of opportunistic, non-native species such as rats, cattle and fire ants. Even a simple household cat has enormous knock-on effects on the unique birdlife.  Meanwhile, economic migrants are insisting on their right to live there even as police try to enforce increasingly stringent residence and usage regulations.

Read more: The New York Times

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