Goats, Rats, Pigs and Tourists Put Galapagos at Risk
Ecotourism can have its dangers. On the Galapagos Islands, increased tourism has brought unintended consequences, which this week led the United Nations to add the Islands to its list of endangered places.
Here's what happened: Tourism is now Ecuador's fourth largest industry. The rise in the number of tourists visiting the Galapagos has resulted in a need for more workers to serve the tourists. Workers lured from the mainland have often brought their own animals with them. In addition, boats and ships coming to the island can carry rats. The invasion of wild rats, goats, pigs, dogs and cats to the Galapagos has now put rare and unique species like the Galapagos giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies at risk, as they often can not compete with these invasive species.
Galapagos officials haven't been sitting on their laurels. Reuters reports that "Galapagos park rangers have launched a cull of goats, shooting them down from helicopters, backed up by imported hunting dogs on the ground, after migrants' goats were found to be competing for food with the archipelago's giant tortoises."
Meanwhile, Ecuador is considering changing its tourism policies, possibly limiting the number of visitors each year.
A further reminder that actions, no matter how well intended, can have their costs.
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