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Galapagos 'face species threat'<br><br>
By Simon Watts<br><br>
BBC News<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>
Galapagos species inspired Darwin's theory of evolution<br><br>
Officials in Ecuador say they are worried about the discovery of foreign species on the Galapagos Islands.<br><br>
Despite inspections of incoming ships and planes, local people recently found an iguana and a turtle which probably came from mainland South America.<br><br><br><br>
Invasive foreign species are one of the main threats to the islands' wildlife.<br><br><br><br>
This includes giant tortoises, marine iguanas and finches which enchanted naturalist Charles Darwin and helped him develop his theory of evolution.<br><br><br><br>
It is the isolation of the Galapagos Islands which makes their ecology unique.<br><br><br><br>
Stranded 1,000km (620 miles) off the Ecuadorean coast, animals adapted to the conditions in their particular part of the archipelago without external influences.<br><br><br><br>
Development challenge<br><br><br><br>
Now, though, the isolation of the Galapagos is threatened by foreign species.<br><br><br><br>
The archipelago is home to fishermen, a booming tourist industry and a growing number of migrants from the mainland.<br><br><br><br>
Development has gone hand-in-hand with the arrival of foreign tortoises, turtles and even a monkey.<br><br><br><br>
Officials are particularly worried about the newly discovered iguana which is probably a type which breeds rapidly and could compete with the indigenous varieties.<br><br><br><br>
It almost certainly arrived in cargo and was missed by inspectors.<br><br><br><br>
Other foreign animals in the Galapagos were introduced deliberately, only for their disastrous impact to be appreciated too late.<br><br><br><br>
Naturalists are working to eradicate thousands of feral goats which are a direct threat to the habitat of the Galapagos' giant tortoises.
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