Tourism and invasive species “threaten Galapagos wildlife”

The United Nations has declared Ecuador's Galapagos islands in danger as booming tourism and immigration threaten giant tortoises and seabirds that are unique to the Pacific archipelago.

"They are threatened by invasive species, growing tourism and immigration," the world heritage committee of UNESCO — the UN Educational, Social and Cultural Organisation — said on Tuesday.

Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, declared the volcanic islands, which inspired British naturalist Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, at risk in April. Correa has vowed to impose more rigorous population restrictions and to temporarily suspend some tourism permits.

The islands’ growing tourism has lured thousands of workers from the mainland to work in construction, restaurants and cruise ships. Some bring to the islands non-native species such as goats, who compete for food with the ancient tortoises.

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