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…

Turtles and Climate Change

Turtles and Climate Change

Spring has sprung, all the flowers are in bloom, and shells are a clackin'! This winter has been cold and rainy at the Turtle Conservancy’s Conservation Center, and the turtles have had enough of it! They have had plenty of time to think about climate change and its implications for their future.

Species Highlight

The Coahuilan box turtle (Terrapene coahuila) is a small aquatic species of box turtle which lives in Mexico, specifically in the Cuatro Ciénegas basin of central Coahuila. This species is the most aquatic turtle of the genus Terrapene.

This turtle species inhabits permanent and seasonal ponds and wetlands—a specific and sensitive habitat to which it is dependent. When not foraging, it selects to bury itself in the mud in or near the water bodies where it lives. Nevertheless, it is less aquatic than the sympatric species found in Cuatro Ciénegas; the Cuatro Cienegas Slider (Trachemys taylori) and the Cuatro Cienegas Softshell (Apalone spinifera atra). The high salinity of the water gives a white appearance to the Coahuilan box turtle’s shell when the water dries. The Coahuilan box turtle is mostly omnivorous, mainly feeding on plants and insects.

 Unfortunately, this species faces many threats. The primary reason is habitat loss due to human hydrological activities—specifically those linked to the pumping of groundwater and increased diversion by canals. Agriculture and cattle ranching is also being developed in the area which requires a substantial amount of water. These combined activities have caused the shallow pond habitat of the Coahuilan box turtle to dry up significantly. Furthermore, the illegal collection and poaching of this turtle for the pet trade has occurred in the past, indicated by the presence of wild caught animals in private collections. Terrapene coahuila is currently considered as Endangered by the IUCN.

A studbook exists in Europe and in the United States for this species, monitoring births, deaths, parentage lines, individuals acquired from the wild, the location of individuals, and transfers of individuals. Trends in the studbook show that the Coahuilan box turtle is bred quite well in captivity.

The Turtle Conservancy has participated in surveys over the past few years and the threats to the Coahuilan Box Turtle were evident. The situation of this box turtle in the wild must be monitored extensively to ensure its survival. Fortunately, the Mexican government declared 84,347 hectares of the Cuatro Ciénegas as a protected area. However, this will not be enough and further conservation initiatives must be taken in the upcoming next few years to protect the habitat of the turtle.

Planning for the Future

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In mid-February, Turtle Conservancy staff convened at our southern California Conservation Center for strategic planning to discuss the organization's future goals and implementation strategies. The three days of meetings allowed for in-depth conversations that will help guide us through the next three years.

On February 21st, the Border States Conservation Collaborative, a binational group of organizations, met in Tucson, Arizona to explore ways to work together to support our collective and individual conservation goals. The Collaborative discussed proposed border wall construction and the significant implications for wildlife corridors in northwestern Mexico and southwestern United States.

This was the second meeting of this newly formed group that includes Arizona Department of Fish & Game, Borderlands Restoration, Cuenca Los Ojos Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, Desert Tortoise Council, Diamond A Ranch Animas Foundation, Fondo Mexicano Para La Conservación de la Naturaleza, Global Wildlife Conservation, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Malpais Borderlands Group, Nature and Culture International, Northern Jaguar Project, Rancho El Aribabi, Sky Island Alliance, Sonoran Joint Venture, The Nature Conservancy, Turner Endangered Species Fund, Turtle Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Universidad Juárez del Estado de Durango, University of Queretaro, and Wildlands Network.

'Extinct' Tortoise Rediscovered

'Extinct' Tortoise Rediscovered

The Fernandina Tortoise, presumed extinct since 1906, has been rediscovered on a remote volcanic island in the Galapagos, during an Animal Planet funded expedition...

Vote for Turtle Conservancy

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The Turtle Conservancy is eligible to be rated by Charity Navigator, the gold standard in evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of non-profit organizations in the U.S. And we need your help to expedite this process — we invite you to VOTE NOW to request to have the TC analyzed by the Charity Navigator Team!

Galapagos Expedition

Galapagos Expedition

TC board member, Dr. Russell Mittermeier, and TC veterinarian Dr. James Liu went to the Galapagos Islands this past month, taking donors on a trip of a lifetime. In partnership with Lindblad Expeditions, the two took travelers through 6 islands, exploring the evolutionary wonders of the tortoises, birds, and more...

Wildlife Trade Update

Wildlife Trade Update

The Turtle Conservancy continues to assist the US Fish and Wildlife Service in triage management of confiscated turtles and tortoises from the illegal wildlife trade. In total, the Turtle Conservancy has taken in over 100 animals in 2018. The majority of which are U.S. species being exported to Asia…