Galapagos wildlife threatened by disease tourists


Galapagos
Ecuador - The Galapagos giant tortoises and other species found only in the archipelago must now face a new threat: diseases, brought on to the island by the tourists and from them transmitted by mosquitoes.

For over 200,000 years, Aedes taeniorhynchus has evolved on the islands of the archipelago. It is so spontaneous that this mosquito has adapted to the environment. Before Man had not introduced the mammals into Galapagos, 500 years ago, it had been accustomed to feed on the blood of reptiles.

Indeed, if on the continent, mosquitoes prefer to deal with mammals and birds on the archipelago of the Galapagos, giant tortoises and marine iguanas are their main target.

The findings of studies conducted by scientists in the field have established that this adaptation of insects could be fatal for the local wildlife, rare and exceptional. The risk is higher with the increasing development of tourism, mosquitoes can transmit new diseases.

Arnaud Bataille, University of Leeds and Zoological Society of London, stressed that the danger appears only with the transmission by the mosquitoes of diseases as serious as malaria or avian West Nile fever.

With the sharp rise in the number of tourists, and thus that of the number of flights bound for Galapagos, it is likely that a mosquito carrying the virus responsible for one of these diseases landed on the continent.

The government of Ecuador has already introduced a requirement to disinfect the interior of the aircraft, cabin and cockpit, with insecticides. Other such measures should be taken to the boats liaison to the Galapagos Islands.

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