Tortoises on the Galapagos Islands were subject to extensive overexploitation for food by sailors and settlers in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, the main factors that threaten the giant tortoises are introduced animals and the destruction of their habitat. Pigs, goats, cats and rats are threats, as they often prey on the nests and hatchlings. Introduced plants displace the native plants, and in this way they destroy the food basis of the tortoises. The Galapagos National Park therefore focuses not only on breeding programs but also on the control of introduced animals and the preservation of the natural habitat of the tortoises. In addition, education and training programs are offered to the local community.
However, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade are also causing population declines. As recently as March 2021, 185 small tortoises, were found in a suitcase at the airport on Baltra Island. In 2018, 123 juvenile tortoises were stolen from the giant tortoise breeding center on Isabela Island. Also on Isabela, in early 2022, Galápagos National Park rangers discovered the remains of 15 slaughtered giant tortoises. The demand for turtle meat and products apparently still exists, unfortunately.