In the Field: Mexico

The TC team has been busy the past week, visiting three field sites in search of three imperiled Mexican turtles and tortoises.

In Southern Sonora, the team linked up with our partners Nature and Culture International to look for the Goode's Thornscrub Tortoise on the 1,000 acre San Pablo Nature Preserve. It was our first trip during the dry season in the tropical deciduous forest. It was quite the site to see a desert landscape that will soon be transformed into a lush tropical forest in a few weeks with the monsoon season. Nature and Culture International have been instrumental in on the ground work to protect the tropical deciduous forest and manage this project. Go check out their page!

Shifting focus on to the Bolson Tortoise, the team visited the 43,000 acre preserve in the Mapimí Biosphere Reserve. The land was surveyed for a site to create a research station and the team met with INECOL and CONANP to work on management plans and cooperative agreements.

In Cuatrocienegas, the group looked for the endemic Coahuilan Box Turtle and Cuatrocienegas Slider. These unique animals live in a series of oases in the middle of the Coahuilan desert. Unfortunately, the water table is quickly disappearing due to encroaching agriculture and cattle activity. Water loss has resulted in the loss of ponds the turtles need to survive the dry season. Researchers in Mexico have seen a population of 10,000 Coahuilan box turtles shrink to fewer than 3,000, making this species one of the most endangered in the world. We were lucky to visit the leading authority on this species, Jorge Becerra, and learn more about their natural history, conservation status, and film his work. Keep your eyes open for this short doc, there is some unique footage! 

As always, we would like to thank all those who have helped with this trip and conservation programs on both sides of the border, including CONANP, INECOL, Nature and Culture International, Rainforest Trust, Global Wildlife Conservation, Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Mercy Vaughn, Christina Torres, Martin Figueroa, Anibal De La Vega, Jorge Becerra, Gustavo Chavez, Rosalinda Palomo Ramos, and Craig Stanford.

Max Maurer

Turtle Conservancy, 49 Bleecker Street, Suite 601, New York, NY, 10012, United States