Turtle things to do for the summer!
The Turtle Conservancy’s Geometric Tortoise Preserve near Cape Town just got ten new residents! In a recent joint effort between our preserve, CapeNature and an adjoining farm owner we were able to rescue ten geometric tortoises from unsuitable habitat associated with a new 25 acres farm reservoir development…
As previously reported, 10,976 Critically Endangered Radiated tortoises were discovered in Toliara, a town on the southwestern coast of Madagascar. Authorities received complaints of a disturbing smell of death and excrement coming from a two-story house. Upon inspection, thousands of juvenile tortoises occupied the floors, sinks, and bathtubs. They had no food, no water and were lying in their own waste. Over 500 were already dead…
Why bother saving turtles and tortoises from extinction? Do they even really matter??
Of course they do! Besides being absolutely adorable, turtles are critical components of ecosystems around the globe. Turtles and tortoises play vital roles in seed dispersal and vegetation control, they are ecosystem engineers creating burrows for other species, and cultural icons throughout the world.
In honor of World Turtle Day®, everything in our online store is 25% off! All proceeds help support turtle programs around the world - land purchases, research grants, habitat restoration and releases! Also be sure to check out our new membership levels to get the latest turtle and tortoise publications.
World Turtle Day®, sponsored yearly since 2000 by American Tortoise Rescue, is intended to bring attention to, and increase knowledge of and respect for, turtles and tortoises, and encourage human action to help them survive and thrive.
Earth Day in Union Square!
Thank you New York! Despite the blistering cold, several thousand New Yorkers attended the Earth Day Initiative in Union Square on April 14th to learn about ways they can help the planet.
The Turtle Conservancy was there to educate the public about one of the most imperiled groups of vertebrates on the planet - turtles and tortoises! Over half of the 350+ species are threatened with extinction. We also taught people about our native turtles, the issues with single use plastics, and what everyone can do to combat climate change.
For New Yorkers that missed it, email us so we can keep you up-to-date on events and volunteer opportunities in the city!
Today is Earth Day, an opportunity to celebrate our planet and support the protection of the environment. The Turtle Conservancy has preserved 53,000 acres of critical habitat around the globe. With your support we will continue our crusade to protect turtles and tortoises and their habitats. Please consider supporting the work of the Turtle Conservancy on this day for the Earth.
With half of all turtle and tortoise species threatened with extinction, turtles are one of the world’s most endangered vertebrate groups. A new report from the Turtle Conservation Coalition—a collaborative partnership of leading turtle conservation organizations—highlights the world’s 25+ most imperiled tortoise and freshwater turtle species, and the conservation opportunities to prevent their extinction.
It's not just people who need a winter getaway in a tropical paradise. Tortoises, too, enjoy the sun of a Caribbean island, in this case, Sir Richard Branson's Necker Island Resort in the British Virgin Islands. In the spirit of conservation and continuing our partnership with Sir Richard, on Valentine's Day, 24 captive-bred Critically Endangered tortoises traveled from the Turtle Conservancy to their new home on Necker Island. Included were four Radiated Tortoises (Astrochelys radiata), the first of their species to be internationally relocated. Also in the group were 10 Burmese Star Tortoises (Geochelone platynota) and 10 Burmese Black Mountain Tortoises (Manouria emys phayrei), which will join the five of each species we previously sent in 2015.
Sir Richard is not only interested in the native ecology on Necker, but he is also focused on the global extinction crisis specifically with lemurs and tortoises. Already present on Necker are herds of giant Indian Ocean Aldabra Tortoises (Aldabrachelys gigantea), Red Footed Tortoises (Chelonoidis carbonaria), Burmese Black Mountain Tortoises (Manouria emys phayrei), and Burmese Star Tortoises (Geochelone platynota).
Burmese Star Tortoises and Radiated Tortoises are both in the top 25 most endangered species of turtles and tortoises in the world. In Madagascar, poaching of Radiated Tortoises by local people for food and demand for the pet trade has decimated this once plentiful species. In Myanmar, the black market pet trade has virtually wiped out all wild individuals of the Burmese Star Tortoise. Unfortunately, demand still exists for both these species, making reintroductions to their native ecosystems costly and difficult. Fortunately for the Turtle Conservancy, an alternative approach arose, in the form of Sir Richard Branson and Necker Island.
With our guidance and the skill of Necker’s Wildlife Conservation Manager, Vaman Ramlall, Sir Richard and team built a large outdoor compound to house the VIP residents. These new arrivals will be managed in very large open-air paddocks as another breeding colony in the battle against extinction. The climate and ecology of the island are ideal for these animals. Our ultimate goal is to restore all of these species back in their native lands, but for now, assurance colonies represent the ideal way to secure and propagate species still under threat in their natural environment, in their fight against extinction.
Transfer of these CITES I and CITES II tortoises to Necker Island was a lengthy process for all concerned, involving multiple permits, health certificates, and reams of other documentation. The Turtle Conservancy is especially grateful to shipping agent Juan Herrans along with Javier Pacheco of the US Fish & Wildlife Service in Puerto Rico who facilitated the transfer of the animals to the British Virgin Islands.
Read more about the tortoises of Necker Island in the 2014 edition of The Tortoise Magazine.
Through the efforts of our partner the Katala Foundation, Inc. (KFI), and with support from Rainforest Trust, Global Wildlife Conservation and Turtle Conservancy, the local government of Mendoza with the support of the municipal government of Roxas, Palawan, designated 1890 acres of forest lands as a Protected Watershed, in effect creating a wildlife protection area which will directly benefit the Critically Endangered Palawan Forest Turtle.
The Turtle Conservancy has purchased and protected over 53,000 acres of critical habitat including 43,540 acres in Mexico for the Bolson Tortoise (Gopherus flavomarginatus), 1,000 acres also in Mexico for Goode’s Thornscrub Tortoise (Gopherus evgoodei), and 900 acres in South Africa for the Geometric Tortoise (Psammobates geometricus). Further, it has helped to outright purchase 26 acres and protect 7,363 acres for the Palawan Forest Turtle (Siebenrockiella leytensis) in the Philippines.
This is the core of what we do and who we are. We could not have reached this milestone without your support. As a small NGO, every dollar donated goes directly to our work in the field, including land purchases. These critical land acquisitions help stem the tides of agricultural/urban development, destruction of indigenous cultures, and climate change. Not only do we protect turtles and tortoises, but also a whole host of biodiversity including jaguars, pangolins, leopards, caracal, parrots and thousands of other animal and plant species.
This Holiday Season, the Turtle Conservancy suffered through the largest wildfire in California history. The Thomas Fire, one of the most destructive ever recorded, occurred during a time of year when fires are typically rare. The Turtle Conservancy team had just practiced our annual fire drill about a week before the fire started, so when we were alerted that Santa Ana winds had rocketed the flames more than 15 miles in just a few hours, our team jumped into action. Like the proverbial well-oiled machine, we had the animals packed up and ready to go by the time we received mandatory evacuation orders. It was extremely reassuring to have the Charles Paddock Zoo find a place for us to stay at historic City Hall in Atascadero for 5 days. We thank ZooMed Labs for providing some of the specialty equipment we needed during the evacuation.
While the turtles and tortoises waited patiently in safe, quiet conditions, our dedicated team, under the steadfast leadership of co-founder and president, Eric Goode, fought back the flames that at times reached within 20 feet of our property boundary. Many homes were lost and more than a quarter-million acres burned in the first few days. We felt a deep gratitude for the firefighters, and profound relief that we could return the animals to a home that had been spared.
Our recovery work is now just beginning. Insurance will cover some costs, but we learned that it is our responsibility to prevent wildfires from taking lives and property. Not only must we purchase tens of thousands of dollars of air filters, facemasks, safety clothing, and other equipment, we know exactly how to prepare our facilities and people to effectively fight fires in the future. We have assessed what happened, and now it is time to prepare ourselves for a future where such fires are predicted to become increasingly more severe.
As you count your blessings over the coming week, know that we feel tremendous gratitude that you have helped us protect some of the world's most endangered species from extinction, and this year also from the immediate threat of an unprecedented wildfire. In the aftermath of the Thomas Fire, your financial support, no matter how large, will have a tremendous impact right now! Please be generous in your support of the Turtle Conservancy this Holiday Season.
The Turtle Conservancy preserves critical ecosystems and wild lands protecting not only endangered turtles and tortoise but all of the biodiversity within it. Over the past 24 months we have purchased and protected over 45,000 acres in Central America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
A very generous donor has pledged to match up to $20,000 of every dollar donated to the Turtle Conservancy through December 31st, 2017.
Click above to watch our short video on some of the women who make the Terrapin Nesting Project possible...