Invasive Species | October 14th, 2009

In the last decade, the Galapagos has built a relatively strong quarantine system, and the capacity to manage pests that have already arrived. What started as a Charles Darwin Foundation initiative has now become a core government activity, with SICGAL (the quarantine/response system) a highly recognised and valued institution among locals.

The awareness of just how great a risk introduced species are has also developed. One of the most recent additions to that understanding has been the work on the risk of avian malaria and similar diseases. A recent scientific paper has shown that one of the mosquitoes on the islands was a natural arrival, and has had 200,000 years to learn to feed on reptiles and birds instead of mammals.  It only needs the illegal importation of a fighting cock or other bird carrying an avian disease, or a diseased mosquito hitching a ride on a plane, and the Galapagos could become the next Hawaii, losing dozens of endemic bird species.