In mid-June, a team of researchers from TC and HABIO, TC’s Mexican sister organization, spent nearly a week in Mexico’s Bolson de Mapimí to survey the Critically Endangered Bolson Tortoise. In 2016, HABIO and TC purchased the 43,000-acre San Ignacio Ranch at the heart of Mexico’s Bolson de Mapimí desert plateau; at the time the ranch was understood to be inhabited by a good population of tortoises, but no systematic population survey has ever been carried out…
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.