The Desert Tortoise

The desert tortoise is native to the Sonoran, Colorado, and Mojave Deserts of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It is a long-lived reptile, as important to its desert environment as its own environment is to it. Many animals and plants in desert communities owe parts of their lives to the desert tortoise and its burrows. Though the tortoise adapted well over the millennia to the demanding desert environment, it can't cope with many of the changes man has wrought on the southwestern deserts in the last several decades.

The Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) is now a federal threatened species. The Sonoran desert tortoise (Gopherus morafkai) is a species of very special concern. A third species of desert tortoise was recognized in 2016. Goode's thornscrub tortoise (Gopherus evgoodei) is endemic to the tropical deciduous forest and thornscrub ecosystems in northwestern Mexico. This is where the Council comes in, and this is where you can help.

Our Objectives

The objectives of the Desert Tortoise Council are:

  • To serve in a professional advisory manner, by participating in matters involving management, conservation, and protection of the desert.
  • To promote measures and take actions that will ensure the survival of the desert tortoise and the maintenance of its habitat.
  • To stimulate and encourage research in sciences related to the conservation and management of the desert tortoise and the ecosystem on which it depends.
  • To gather and disseminate information on the desert tortoise and its habitat.
  • To maintain an active public information and conservation education program.
  • To commend outstanding action and dedication by individuals and organizations promoting the objectives of the Council.