Geometric Tortoise Preserve Update

The Geometric Tortoise Guardian Team

The Geometric Tortoise Guardian Team

Community Based Conservation

The Turtle Conservancy (TC) is excited to report the addition of 57.5 acres of land to our 800-acre Geometric Tortoise Preserve in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The parcel was purchased with a substantial grant from the Rainforest Trust and will double the amount of critical habitat protected at the southern portion of the Preserve. The Turtle Conservancy’s Geometric Tortoise Preserve contains more than 80% of the remaining Geometric Tortoises on the planet.

Preserve Manager Alwyn Naude Jr. visited the US earlier this month to meet with the TC team in New York and California to discuss preserve management strategy, and expressed his excitement about the new land acquisition. “The Preserve is divided by a road, so the additional land in this area will make it much more sustainable to protect the tortoise population there.”

The Preserve protects one of the last, substantial patches of fragile fynbos habitat in the region, requiring a significant amount of labor to restore and maintain. Naude spearheaded a program to train and employ a “Guardian Team,” composed of local, previously-incarcerated and unemployed men. Naude has now trained eight Guardians in habitat restoration and infrastructure construction, and provides financial management assistance to them as well. This social empowerment program has been incredibly successful, providing much-needed work for locals, and much-needed labor for the Preserve. The Guardian Team is now working to incorporate the newly acquired land into the rest of the Preserve, by clearing invasive plant species, building fences, routing irrigation and installing firebreaks.

We would like to extend a special thank you to the Rainforest Trust for funding the land acquisition, and the initial creation of the Guardian Team.

The Geometric Tortoise Preserve is the last stronghold of an incredibly unique species of tortoise. The work completed by Naude and his Guardian Team is funded by donors like you. If you would like to support our work ensuring the survival of the Geometric Tortoise, please donate to the Turtle Conservancy today. You can also learn more about this species and the history of this project in our magazine, The Tortoise.