Recent Hatchlings

Recent Hatchlings

This past month saw some unique species hatch at our Conservation Center. Two Oaxaca Wood Turtles, a species from southwestern Mexico, hatched naturally inside of their enclosure. And three Ryukyu Black-breasted Leaf Turtles, a small forest dwelling species found on the southern Japanese Islands of Okinawa, Kumejima and Tokashiki, joined our population of turtles and tortoises living within our temperate greenhouse.

Rewilding a Missing Tortoise in Argentina

Rewilding a Missing Tortoise in Argentina

This past month, we had the good fortune to be hosted by Tompkins Conservation at two of the national parks they have created. Doug and Kris Tompkins donated over 14 million acres of land to create national parks in Chile and Argentina, to combat climate change and help restore lost biodiversity in the region. One of their core missions is rewilding populations of species that were wiped out by humans through agriculture, development and hunting. Their team invited us to help them explore the rewilding of a popular tortoise species in a largely unstudied part of its range…

Ojai Day 2019

Ojai Day 2019

On October 19th, the Turtle Conservancy team joined with the community of Ojai to celebrate one of its most historic days, Ojai Day. Originally founded as Nordhoff in 1874, the city was renamed Ojai and was re-developed by Edward Drummond Libbey. Ojai Day traces its origins back to 1917, when the citizens held a celebration in honor of Libbey’s contribution to the construction of the new Spanish-inspired architecture that is still admired today…

Discovering the Fernandina Giant Tortoise

Discovering the Fernandina Giant Tortoise

On October 23rd, Animal Planet launched the second season of the television series Extinct or Alive with the long-awaited episode featuring the promising rediscovery of the Fernandina Giant Tortoise (Chelonoidis phantasticus)…

News from our Rescue Center in New Jersey

News from our Rescue Center in New Jersey

An enthusiastic team of volunteers got together at our rescue center in New Jersey last weekend to help us search for, count, and medically assess turtles rescued from the illegal pet trade before they enter hibernation with the onset of the cold season. The work ahead of this inventory exercise seemed monumental in the face of unseasonable 90° weather.


The majority of the animals living at the center come from confiscations from smugglers trying to export native U.S. species of turtles, including Wood Turtles (Glyptemys insculpta), Box Turtles (Terrapene spp.) and Spotted Turtles (Clemmys guttata). The center is also home to animals confiscated from illegal pet ownership.Maurice Rodrigues, one of the founders of the Turtle Conservancy and an active conservationist, runs the center which provides a caring home for all these confiscated animals…

Species Highlight

Species Highlight

The Roti Island Snake-necked Turtle (Chelodina mccordi) is a special species here at the Turtle Conservancy as it was described in 1994 by Turtle Conservancy Board Chairman, Anders Rhodin. The unique species belongs to the family Chelidae and the suborder Pleurodira. Unlike their counterpart the Cryptodirans, Pleurodirans have the interesting trait of not being able to tuck their head and neck inside their shells. Instead, the turtles of this family withdraw their typically extremely long necks along the side of their body.

Terrapin Nesting Project

Terrapin Nesting Project

From late May to early October, TNP founder Kathy Lacey jumps into her car every single Wednesday morning at 4:00 am and drives 82 miles from Philadelphia to her native Long Beach Island where she will stay three days checking on terrapin nests, caring for hatchings and helping release them into the sheltered bay area.

Notes from the CITES Conference of Parties

Notes from the CITES Conference of Parties

This month, the 18thmeeting of the Conference of Parties (CoP) occurred in Geneva, Switzerland. Held every three years, the CoP is when countries make legally-binding decisions to improve regulations on international wildlife trade, based on preparation work that occurred in the preceding years.

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

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

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!

The Tortoise Magazine Issue 8 Release

The Tortoise Magazine Issue 8 Release

The 8th (GIANT) issue of The Tortoise is here! This year’s magazine spotlights the giant tortoises of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, punctuated by a spectacular achievement in turtle conservation in 2019—the rediscovery of a tortoise on Fernandina Island in the Galápagos…

TC Joins Aussie Ark

TC Joins Aussie Ark

On the northern coast of New South Wales, the Manning River Sawshelled Turtle paddles secretively amongst the platypuses. The species is so rarely seen it was declared “Endangered” by the Australian government in 2017. It is one of the regions three endemic turtles, along with the Bellinger River Snapping Turtle and Bell's Sawshelled Turtle, all of which are Endangered and which are found nowhere else on Earth...

Conservation Center Updates

Conservation Center Updates

The tortoises of the genus Manouriaare the oldest forms of tortoises living today. These living dinosaurs include the Asian Giant Tortoises and the Impressed Tortoise. The Turtle Conservancy manages both of these species at our southern California Conservation Center, and this past month we were very excited to get large clutches of eggs from our tortoises...

In Search of the Ryukyu Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle

In Search of the Ryukyu Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle

Last May, a Turtle Conservancy team went into the field in southern Japan to observe the Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica). This small turtle is endemic to the Ryukyu archipelago, and was designated as a natural monument by the prefecture of Okinawa in 1973…

News From the Field

News From the Field

In early May, TC Board Chair Anders Rhodin and TC field programs director Peter Paul van Dijk visited Mexico to evaluate progress in management of the Bolson Tortoise Ecosystem Preserve by the TC’s local affiliate HABIO, A.C. Working with HABIO’s treasurer Judith Rios, progress was made towards full-time management of the Preserve, while we also continue to work towards possible future expansion of strictly protected areas for Bolson Tortoises. Among the highlights were the opportunity provided by our colleague Gamaliel Castañeda to give presentations to a large gathering of students and staff of the Universidad Juárez del Estado de Durango at Gomez Palacio; Anders spoke about the conservation status of tortoises and freshwater turtles world-wide, while Peter Paul spoke about the opportunities and challenges of private protected areas for biodiversity conservation... 

Turtle Crossings!

Turtle Crossings!

It’s turtle nesting season in the Northern Hemisphere! Turtles rarely leave their home range for much of the year, but during breeding season they will travel far to find mates or a suitable place to nest. There are 59 species of turtles and tortoises in North America, but you might encounter some species more than others on roads. Depending on your location, it is common to find Painted Turtles, Common Snapping Turtles, and Diamondback Terrapins attempting to cross roads throughout the East and Central United States. These species suffer from habitat loss and fragmentation as well as the destruction of nesting sites, largely from housing and commercial developments encroaching on the beaches and sandy and soil areas where turtles like to nest. Consequently, females will travel longer distances in search of proper nesting habitat...

Geometric Tortoise Preserve Update

Geometric Tortoise Preserve Update

The Turtle Conservancy 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 reserve. The Turtle Conservancy’s Geometric Tortoise Preserve contains more than 80% of the remaining Geometric Tortoises on the planet…

Species Highlight

Species Highlight

The Sulawesi Forest Turtle (Leucocephalon yuwonoi) is a recently described species of turtle endemic to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The name Leucocephalon refers to the white head coloration in males of the species, while yuwonoi refers to the animal collector Franck Yuwono, who was the first to obtain specimens of this turtle…

Conservation Organizations Gathered to Discuss Enhanced Wildlife Protections in the U.S.-Mexico Border States

On February 21, some 40 wildlife conservation leaders and specialists representing 22 American and Mexican non-governmental organizations, were gathered during the 44th Annual Symposium of the Desert Tortoise Council, in Tucson, Arizona, to celebrate recent successes and to accelerate protection of transboundary wildlife corridors, with a focus on supporting private lands conservation on the U.S.-Mexico borderlands…

Turtle rehabilitation at MOHS Habitat

Turtle rehabilitation at MOHS Habitat

Volunteering in the greenhouse habitat, several Mount Olive High School students care for the animals, learn skills in the field of biology and ecology, and participate in a rehabilitation program for the animals. The students are currently helping rehabilitate several turtles for the Turtle Conservancy, an organization that helps protect over 300 species of endangered turtles throughout the world. These turtles will be returned to the care of Maurice Rodrigues in May, one of the founders of the program…