2018 AZA Conference

2018 AZA Conference

As the world’s only AZA certified turtle and tortoise facility, we participated in the AZA conference again this year. Many zoos and aquariums stopped by our booth to learn about how we’ve protected over 50,000 acres of wild land for turtles and tortoises…

Species Highlight

Species Highlight

The Okinawa Leaf Turtle is a cryptic species, with a highly colorful red to yellow pattern. This turtle has been highly desired by collectors, but at the same time scientist didn’t know a lot about this animal…

Welcome to the Team!

Welcome to the Team!

Let's all give a warm welcome to the newest member of the Turtle Conservancy Team, Thomas Owens! Tommy has come to us after 17 years at the San Diego Zoo, and is now the TC's curator and director of regional field programs. He will be leading our effort to conserve the Southern Western Pond Turtle!

Saving the Pacific Leatherback

Saving the Pacific Leatherback

Please support our efforts in conjunction with Paso Pacifico in the construction of two new hatcheries in Nicaragua to protect nests from poachers and predators. Help us reach our goal of $8,000 by October 1st!

Conservation Center Updates

Conservation Center Updates

We have been incredibly busy this past month here at the Turtle Conservancy's Conservation Center. Two interns, Simon Rouot (L) and Noah Rodrigues (R), joined the TC Team, our incubators seemed to have revolving doors with new turtles hatching almost everyday, and major renovations and redesign of our large greenhouse is underway...

The Russians Are Here!

The Russians Are Here!

Along with interfering in American elections, the Russians have now established themselves at the Turtle Conservancy–Russian tortoises, that is. Ten of the tortoises arrived over this summer as homeless rescues, abandoned when their owners tired of them. Our Russians are settling in nicely; they are completely uninterested in computers, so we're not concerned about their hacking into our systems...

Bolson Tortoise Preserve Update

Bolson Tortoise Preserve Update

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…

Congratulations Sabin Prize Winners!

Congratulations Sabin Prize Winners!

Congratulations to our friends and colleagues Gamaliel Castañeda Gaytán and Rosalinda Palomo-Ramos on being this year’s winners of the Sabin Family Prize in turtle conservation! Read more about their amazing work and what motivates them to save turtles and tortoises in Mexico...

Geometric Tortoise Preserve Update

Geometric Tortoise Preserve Update

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…

Madagascar Update

Madagascar Update

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…

Explore The Galapagos With Us!

Explore The Galapagos With Us!

We are organizing our first ever expedition into the field with a select group of TC Members in partnership with Lindblad Expeditions. In this special expedition, we will explore Fernandina Island for evidence of the Fernandina Giant Tortoise, which has not been seen since 1906...

Turtles in Trouble

Turtles in Trouble

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.

TC Tortoises Find Shelter on Private Island

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.

Saving Madagascar’s Ploughshare Tortoise

Saving Madagascar’s Ploughshare Tortoise

The Ploughshare Tortoise is the most endangered tortoise in the world. With wild populations on the brink of extinction, it has become clear to the conservation community that action must be scaled up substantially if we hope to save this species...