This grassland was once covered by thick forest.

Between Man and Goat

Invasive species include animals, too. There are 13 introduced species of mammals in the Galápagos. The one that has caused the most damage is the goat. Whalers, pirates, and fishers brought goats to the islands in the 1850s. By the late 1990s, the total number of goats reached six figures.

Goats are known for their appetites. Over time, they ate their way through large patches of land.

Bats and rice rats are the only mammals native to the Galápagos Islands.

Taking Back the Islands

Once an invasive species takes over, how do you get rid of it? Galápagos farmers fight the blackberry one plant at a time. They rip them out by hand.

The goats were another matter. Their grazing threatened the survival of rare plants and trees. In 2004, Project Isabela was enacted. Goats were killed, so plant and animal life could come back.

a herd of goats on Isabela Island

Invasive species pose a real threat to the islands. Each must be monitored and managed to protect the islands.

Goats eat plants like prickly pear cactus, which is food for giant tortoises, land iguanas, doves, cactus finches, and mockingbirds.