Sierra Negra Giant Tortoise

South America


Chelonoidis guntheri


Massive population decline occurred due to regular volcanic eruptions as well as overhunting for human consumption during the past centuries. The remaining numbers are constantly exploited for its eggs and oil or killed by introduced feral species such as dogs, goats, and pigs.

The Galapagos Giant Tortoise or Sierra Negra Giant Tortoise, considered as the largest living tortoise species and one of the longest-lived vertebrates, is native to Galapagos Islands although some can be found on Aldabra Islands in the Indian Ocean. This diurnal terrestrial tortoise belongs to the Chelonoidis genus and the assigned French name ‘nigra’ means "tortoise with completely black body".

Adults spend up to 16 hours a day for resting while feeding on grass, lichen, cacti, and herbs as well as fruits including Manzanillo (poison apple). Resounding, guttural sounds can be heard while mating which can produce up to 16 eggs. Each with the size of a tennis ball. Fight sessions among males involve biting, gaping, shell bumping, and neck extensions.