18,850 Acres of Critical Wildlife Habitat Secured in Northern Mexico!

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The Turtle Conservancy, HABIO A.C., Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC), and Rainforest Trust partnered on a deal to purchase an 18,850-acre former cattle ranch in Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert, which will be converted into a desert-grassland wildlife refuge. Endemic lizards, critically-endangered Bolson tortoises, migratory birds, and a variety of resident mammals are among the many species of animals set to benefit from the preservation of this biodiverse landscape, showing again how saving turtles can save the planet.

This habitat bolsters the land the Turtle Conservancy and partners protect for wildlife in the region to 62,439 acres, nearly 4 ½ times the size of Manhattan!

“Wild desert landscapes all over Mexico are being lost to overgrazing and, even worse, conversion to agriculture,” said Eric Goode, president of Turtle Conservancy. “These lands cannot sustain agriculture for very long. When exploiting arid land and its limited water resources, we lose wilderness and we can never replace that.”

As many as 200 bird species, 70 mammal species, 44 reptile species, and eight amphibian species use this newly protected habitat. Grasslands also remain a significant carbon sink for North America’s battle against climate change. Help us restore this land to ensure their survival!


Rancho Guimbalete, which is in the state of Coahuila on the northern edge of the Bolsón de Mapimí Biosphere Reserve, covers a large tract of largely undamaged Chihuahuan desert vegetation and is home to a range of resident and migratory wildlife species. This includes lizards that live only in the local sand dunes, the critically endangered Bolson Tortoise, nesting birds and migratory birds that stop to feed and rest at the seasonal wetlands, and a variety of resident mammals, such as kangaroo rats, mule deer and pumas. The ranch is also home to an incredible diversity of cacti, herbs and shrub species.

Under the leadership of HABIO, A.C., a Mexican NGO dedicated to biodiversity conservation in the country’s northern deserts, the ranch will now be managed primarily to protect the biodiversity found there. The ranch will also serve as a buffer zone for the neighboring Bolsón de Mapimí Biosphere Reserve, which the Mexican government established in 1977 and is a candidate Key Biodiversity Area, a site of global importance for the persistence of biodiversity.

In addition to bringing an end to cattle grazing—which will help spur the recovery of grasslands habitat—HABIO, A.C., will implement management strategies that minimize erosion, encourage vegetation recovery, increase water availability for native wildlife, and prevent agricultural land use.

“The purchase of Rancho Guimbalete by HABIO, A.C., so that it can be managed in the future for biodiversity conservation, represents a significant step forward for the conservation of the Bolsón de Mapimí’s unique biology and landscape,” said Judith Rios, treasurer of HABIO, A.C.

As many as 200 bird species, 70 mammal species, 44 reptile species and eight amphibian species live in or use the ranch habitat, though future surveys will confirm the exact number of species that will benefit from the protection of the ranch. Habitat destruction and poaching are the biggest threats to the wildlife that live here, in addition to more severe droughts that result from climate change.

“The Bolson tortoise was recently uplisted from Vulnerable to Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature,” said Stephanie Wester, Latin America Conservation Officer at Rainforest Trust. “It is incredible that over 18,000 acres are now under conservation for the protection of this species and other wildlife.”

This purchase was made possible by grants and other support from a partnership formed by the Turtle Conservancy, Rainforest Trust, Global Wildlife Conservation, and several private donors.


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Global Wildlife Conservation

GWC conserves the diversity of life on Earth by safeguarding wildlands, protecting wildlife and supporting guardians. We maximize our impact through scientific research, biodiversity exploration, habitat conservation, protected area management, wildlife crime prevention, endangered species recovery, and conservation leadership cultivation. Learn more at http://globalwildlife.org

Turtle Conservancy

The Turtle Conservancy is dedicated to protecting threatened turtles and tortoises and their habitats worldwide. It focuses its work on four strategic program areas: conserving species in their natural habitat, including land acquisition; maintaining captive breeding programs to help restore natural populations; conservation science and research; outreach and spreading global awareness; and monitoring and helping to prevent trade that threatens turtle and tortoise species. Turtle Conservancy’s Mexican partneraffiliate, HABIO, A.C., in 2016 acquired Rancho San Ignacio at the core of the Bolsón de Mapimí, also supported by Global Willdife Conservation and the Rainforest Trust, as well as the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Learn more at www.turtleconservancy.org

Rainforest Trust

Rainforest Trust purchases and protects the most threatened tropical forests, saving endangered wildlife through partnerships and community engagement. Through these highly effective partnerships, we can ensure sustainable results necessary for the long-term protection of tropical ecosystems and the wildlife they hold. For more information, visit www.RainforestTrust.org.