The Desert Tortoises
The desert tortoise species, including Agassiz’s desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii; also known as the Mojave desert tortoise), Morafka’s desert tortoise (Gopherus morafkai; also known as the Sonoran desert tortoise), and Goode’s thornscrub tortoise (Gopherus evgoodei; also known as the Sinaloan thornscrub tortoise), are native inhabitants of several southwestern ecosystems, including the Sonoran, Colorado, and Mojave Deserts of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, and tropical deciduous forests and thornscrub in northwestern Mexico. These tortoises are long-lived reptiles, as important to their ecosystems as their own environments are to them. For example, many animals and plants in desert communities owe parts of their lives to the burrows that Agassiz’s desert tortoises excavate and inhabit. Though the desert tortoises are well-adapted to their environments, it’s becoming increasingly clear that they’re unable to cope with the fast-paced and increasingly widespread and intensive changes humans have wrought on southwestern ecosystems in recent decades. The Desert Tortoise Council is an advocate for each of these species, and we advocate science-based approaches to conserving desert tortoises and their habitats. More information about the desert tortoise species is presented on the following pages:
Threats to Desert Tortoises (coming soon)
Population Trends of Agassiz’s Desert Tortoises (coming soon)
Tortoise In Peril
The following documentary entitled Tortoise In Peril was aired on KCET as part of their Earth Focus series. This highly acclaimed and award-winning program features the many troubles that desert tortoises face, and how we may overcome them through conservation efforts.
Desert tortoises are a threatened species. Habitat destruction, diseases and other factors have reduced their numbers by up to 90 percent. Now flocks of ravens, that often live off human trash, are eating baby tortoises, reducing the odds of tortoise survival as a species. This documentary explores that impact, pointing out how people can change the environment through seemingly innocent actions.