IELTS® Academic Reading Practice 41

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Endangered Galapagos Tortoise

An airborne reintroduction programme has helped conservationists take significant steps to protect the endangered Galapagos tortoise.

Section A

A. Forests of cactus covered in spikes span most of the bumpy lava plains which mark the divide between the interior of the Galapagos island of lsabela and the Pacific Ocean. The island itself appears almost similar to the moon's surface, with five distinct volcanoes total. A sea of clouds often surrounds Sierra Negra’s peak, and around the skirt, thick vegetation is the only thing which grows above otherwise barren terrain. The giant Galapagos tortoise calls this harsh environment home. The Galapagos islands formed five million years ago, and in the time since, one, or perhaps several varieties of tortoises from mainland South America have populated the island. Different populations adapted to their unique environments from these ancestral tortoises, leading to the divergence of 14 known subspecies. Without the threat of any predators, these tortoises thrived, evolving to become the largest and longest-living tortoises on earth. With a weight of over 400 kilograms, sometimes even greater than 1.8 metres in length, these huge reptiles can live for over one hundred years.

Section B

The population of tortoises on the archipelago was in the hundreds of thousands before humans arrived there. Pirates from the 17th century onwards used them as a source of food, but it wasn’t until the 1790s when whaling ships arrived that their exploitation grew exponentially. Relatively unmoving, yet able to go months without food or water, sailors brought tortoises aboard their ships to sustain them as food during long sea voyages. High- grade oil could also be made from the tortoises. Before the 20th century, 200,000 animals were estimated to have been removed from the archipelago. After settlers arrived to the islands, the exploitation of tortoises worsened. Tortoises were then hunted and killed make space for land used for agriculture, or as sources of food. Invasive alien species were also introduced by settlers, such as cattle, pigs, goats, rats and dogs, as well as plants and ants, and these often preyed on the eggs and young tortoises. Many of the tortoises’ habitats were also infringed upon by these invaders.

Section C

Out of the original 14 sub-species of tortoise once found on the Galapagos, there are only 11 left today, many of which are highly endangered. In the late eighties, a tortoise-breeding center located near the town of Puerto Villamil on Isabela was founded, intended to help the tortoise populations of the islands. Breeding the tortoises in captivity ended up a success, and eventually led to the reverse problem: overpopulation of tortoises.

Section D

Tortoises bred in captivity can’t be reintroduced into the wild until the age of five years old and weigh at least 4.5 kilograms. This is when their size, weight, and shell hardness are are sufficient protection from any predators they may face. However, the tortoises eventually grow too huge to move around easily once they pass this point, making the timing of releasing of captive-bred tortoises a matter of significance.

Section E

For a time, reintroducing the tortoises to the wild required men to make difficult hikes along narrow trails, carrying the animals on their backs for weeks at a time. The environmentalist and Galapagos National Park liaison officer Godfrey Merlin, a visiting private motor yacht captain and a helicopter pilot got together in November 2010, meeting in a café in Puerto Ayora on the island of Santa Cruz. They set out to begin a plan of more ambitious reintroduction, with the goal of using a helicopter to travel throughout the Sierra Negras and move 300 of the breeding centre’s tortoises.

Section F

It was the owners of the 67-metre yacht “White Cloud” who made this unprecedented undertaking possible, giving the Galapagos National Park  use of their helicopter and pilot, along with the experience of the yacht, its captain and crew, all free of charge. Once an air ambulance, the yacht’s helicopter sports a rear double door and a large interior area appropriate for cargo. Therefore, they designed a specialized crate which could contain a maximum of 33 tortoises weighing a total of approximately 150 kilograms. The combination in weight of the fuel, pilot and four crew, with the weight of the tortoises neared the helicopter’s maximum payload, testing the limits of what the helicopter was capable of doing. Over a span of three days, volunteers who came from breeding centre worked continuously in groups to help get the young tortoises ready to be moved. At the same time, park wardens who had arrived earlier in some remote areas worked to prepare landing sites covered in thick vegetation, cacti and lava rocks.

Section G

The juvenile tortoises who were released rushed back into their ancestral territories, spreading out as they explored and fed upon the vegetation they found. Eventually, an old, experienced tortoise, one who had been living on the island for nearly a century, lumbered forward to meet face to face with one of the newly-released juveniles. They then stood next to one another, a symbolization of how an ancient species can be regenerated.




This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 15-26.
Questions 15-21
The reading passage has seven sections, A-G.

Choose the correct heading for sections A-G from the list of headings below.

Write the correct number i-vii in boxes 15-21 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings
  1. Time is of the essence for captive-bred tortoises
  2. The symbol of hope for a new generation of tortoises
  3. Historical threats to Galapagos tortoise populations
  4. A brave new idea to help reintroduce tortoises bred in captivity
  5. Tortoises arrive and thrive on the Galapagos islands
  6. Executing the plan with coordinated efforts
  7. Initial efforts made to help boost tortoise populations

15. Section A

16. Section B

17. Section C

18. Section D

19. Section E

20. Section F

21. Section G

Questions 22-23
Complete the sentences below.

Choose NO MORE THAN ONE WORD from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in 22-23 on your answer sheet.

was the unintentional result of tortoises breeding successfully in captivity.

A custom crate was designed to transport the tortoises in a .

Questions 24-26
Complete the summary below.

Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in 24-26 on your answer sheet.

The tortoises most likely came to the Galapagos from mainland .  Before human arrival, the archipelago's tortoises numbered in the hundreds of thousands. However, when came to the islands, they hunted the tortoises and introduced that feed on young tortoises.




Answer Sheet
1
N/A
2
N/A
3
N/A
4
N/A
5
N/A
6
N/A
7
N/A
8
N/A
9
N/A
10
N/A
11
N/A
12
N/A
13
N/A
14
N/A
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
N/A
28
N/A
29
N/A
30
N/A
31
N/A
32
N/A
33
N/A
34
N/A
35
N/A
36
N/A
37
N/A
38
N/A
39
N/A
40
N/A


Reading Passage Vocabulary
Endangered Galapagos Tortoise


An airborne reintroduction programme has helped conservationists take significant steps to protect the endangered Galapagos tortoise.

Section A

A. Forests of cactus covered in spikes span most of the bumpy lava plains which mark the divide between the interior of the Galapagos island of lsabela and the Pacific Ocean. The island itself appears almost similar to the moon's surface, with five distinct volcanoes total. A sea of clouds often surrounds Sierra Negra’s peak, and around the skirt, thick vegetation is the only thing which grows above otherwise barren terrain. The giant Galapagos tortoise calls this harsh environment home. The Galapagos islands formed five million years ago, and in the time since, one, or perhaps several varieties of tortoises from mainland South America have populated the island. Different populations adapted to their unique environments from these ancestral tortoises, leading to the divergence of 14 known subspecies. Without the threat of any predators, these tortoises thrived, evolving to become the largest and longest-living tortoises on earth. With a weight of over 400 kilograms, sometimes even greater than 1.8 metres in length, these huge reptiles can live for over one hundred years.

Section B

The population of tortoises on the archipelago was in the hundreds of thousands before humans arrived there. Pirates from the 17th century onwards used them as a source of food, but it wasn’t until the 1790s when whaling ships arrived that their exploitation grew exponentially. Relatively unmoving, yet able to go months without food or water, sailors brought tortoises aboard their ships to sustain them as food during long sea voyages. High- grade oil could also be made from the tortoises. Before the 20th century, 200,000 animals were estimated to have been removed from the archipelago. After settlers arrived to the islands, the exploitation of tortoises worsened. Tortoises were then hunted and killed make space for land used for agriculture, or as sources of food. Invasive alien species were also introduced by settlers, such as cattle, pigs, goats, rats and dogs, as well as plants and ants, and these often preyed on the eggs and young tortoises. Many of the tortoises’ habitats were also infringed upon by these invaders.

Section C

Out of the original 14 sub-species of tortoise once found on the Galapagos, there are only 11 left today, many of which are highly endangered. In the late eighties, a tortoise-breeding center located near the town of Puerto Villamil on Isabela was founded, intended to help the tortoise populations of the islands. Breeding the tortoises in captivity ended up a success, and eventually led to the reverse problem: overpopulation of tortoises.

Section D

Tortoises bred in captivity can’t be reintroduced into the wild until the age of five years old and weigh at least 4.5 kilograms. This is when their size, weight, and shell hardness are are sufficient protection from any predators they may face. However, the tortoises eventually grow too huge to move around easily once they pass this point, making the timing of releasing of captive-bred tortoises a matter of significance.

Section E

For a time, reintroducing the tortoises to the wild required men to make difficult hikes along narrow trails, carrying the animals on their backs for weeks at a time. The environmentalist and Galapagos National Park liaison officer Godfrey Merlin, a visiting private motor yacht captain and a helicopter pilot got together in November 2010, meeting in a café in Puerto Ayora on the island of Santa Cruz. They set out to begin a plan of more ambitious reintroduction, with the goal of using a helicopter to travel throughout the Sierra Negras and move 300 of the breeding centre’s tortoises.

Section F

It was the owners of the 67-metre yacht “White Cloud” who made this unprecedented undertaking possible, giving the Galapagos National Park  use of their helicopter and pilot, along with the experience of the yacht, its captain and crew, all free of charge. Once an air ambulance, the yacht’s helicopter sports a rear double door and a large interior area appropriate for cargo. Therefore, they designed a specialized crate which could contain a maximum of 33 tortoises weighing a total of approximately 150 kilograms. The combination in weight of the fuel, pilot and four crew, with the weight of the tortoises neared the helicopter’s maximum payload, testing the limits of what the helicopter was capable of doing. Over a span of three days, volunteers who came from breeding centre worked continuously in groups to help get the young tortoises ready to be moved. At the same time, park wardens who had arrived earlier in some remote areas worked to prepare landing sites covered in thick vegetation, cacti and lava rocks.

Section G

The juvenile tortoises who were released rushed back into their ancestral territories, spreading out as they explored and fed upon the vegetation they found. Eventually, an old, experienced tortoise, one who had been living on the island for nearly a century, lumbered forward to meet face to face with one of the newly-released juveniles. They then stood next to one another, a symbolization of how an ancient species can be regenerated.

 
IELTS Academic Reading Tips for Success
These are general tips that will appear on all reading questions.

Tips to improve your reading speed
To get a high score on the IELTS reading section, you need to have a fast reading speed. To have a fast reading speed, you need to improve your vocabulary and practice dissecting sentences. One strategy to dissect a sentence is to look for the subject and verb of the sentence. Finding the subject and verb will help you better understand the main idea of said sentence. Keep in mind, a common feature of a IELTS reading passage is to join strings of ideas to form long compound sentences. This produces large chunks that students have a hard time absorbing. Do not get overwhelmed by its length, just look for the subject and verb, the rest of the ideas will flow.


Keep in mind, having a slow reading speed makes skimming or scanning a reading passage more difficult. The process of quickly skimming through a reading passage for specific keywords or main ideas is a requirement for you to employ successful reading strategies to improve your IELTS reading score. In other words, skimming and scanning are critical skills to ensure you complete all questions in the allotted time frame.
IELTS Reading Strategies
Once you can read and comprehend a passage with a rate of, at least, 220 words per minute, you'll be ready to start implementing our strategies. All too often, students spend too much time reading the passages and not enough time answering the questions. Here is a step by step guide for tackling the reading section.

  1. Step 1: Read questions first

    One of the most common mistakes that candidates make when approaching the reading exam is reading every single word of the passages. Although you can practice for the exam by reading for pleasure, "reading blindly" (reading without any sense of what the questions will ask) will not do you any favors in the exam. Instead, it will hurt your chances for effectively managing your time and getting the best score.

    The main reason to read the questions first is because the type of question may determine what you read in the passage or how you read it. For example, some question types will call for the "skimming" technique, while others may call for the "scanning" technique.

    It is important to answer a set of questions that are of the same question type. You'll need to determine which question type you want to tackle first. A good strategy would be to start with the easier question type and move on to more difficult question types later. The Easiest question types are the ones where you spend less time reading. For example, the Matching Heading question type is an easier one because you only need to find the heading that best describes the main idea of a paragraph. An example of a difficult question type would be Identifying Information. For this question type, you'll need to read each paragraph to find out if each statement is TRUE, FALSE, or NOT GIVEN according to the passage.

    Here is a table that lists the difficulty levels for each question type. Use this table as a reference when choosing which question type you want to tackle first.


    Difficulty level Question Type
    Easy Sentence Completion
    Short answer
    Medium Matching Features
    Multiple choice
    Matching Headings
    Summary, Table, Flow-Chart Completion
    Difficult Matching Sentence Endings
    Matching Information
    Identifying Information (TRUE/FALSE/NOT GIVEN)
    Identifying Viewer's claims (YES/NO/NOT GIVEN)

  2. Step 2: Read for an objective

    After you've read the questions for the passage, you will be able to read for an objective. What does this mean? For example, if you come across a question that includes the year "1896", you can make a note of when this year comes up in the text, using it to answer the question later on. There are two reading techniques that will help you stay on track with reading for an objective. The first one, skimming, is best defined as reading fast in order to get the "gist", or general idea, or a passage. With this technique, you are not stopping for any unfamiliar words or looking for specific details. The second technique, scanning, is best defined as reading for specific information. With this technique, you are not reading for the overall gist, but rather, specific information. Notice how each of these techniques has a specific objective in mind. This will help you find information more quickly.

  3. Step 3: Take notes

    As you're reading for an objective, you should also be making notes on the margins of the passage, placing stars next to key information, or underlining things that you believe will help you answer the various questions. This will make it easier for you to check back when you are asked certain things in the questions. Choose whichever note-taking system is right for you - just make sure you do it!

  4. Step 4: Answer wisely

    After you've read the questions, read the passage, and have taken any appropriate notes, you you should have located the part of the text where you where you need to read carefully. Then just read carefully and think critically to determine the correct answer.

IELTS Reading Question Types
 
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