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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Tortoise Tracking

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, March 24, 2015/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, sustainability, environment

The   Desert Tortoise  inhabits parts of the California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah deserts and it's in trouble. In 1920, 1000 tortoises existed per square mile in the Mojave desert and 70 years later they were listed as threatened on the endangered species list, The slow-moving animals had happily lived in their desert habitats for millions of years. Several active efforts are now underway to reverse their decline.

Joshua Tree National Park  has established a program to better understand the status of the tortoise, its ecology, and how populations can be rebuilt in the hyper-arid environment of the California park. Working with volunteers and non-profit organizations, the park managers began an initiative to monitor tortoise behavior by using tracking tagged turtles with small radio-transmitters. The batteries last three years and provide valuable data that couldn't be acquired otherwise of the lumbering beasts. There is even a  cell phone application  that you can use to help the researchers identify tortoises you might encounter while on a desert hike. Efforts by other parks and reserves even allow an individual to  adopt a tortoise  by a donation/sponsorship that goes directly to acquiring additional tracking devises to monitor more turtles.

                  
       Desert Tortoise Radio Tracking (credit: National Park Service & Institute for Wildlife Studies)

A short video shows what dedicated volunteers and park managers can accomplish for the conservation of an iconic desert animal by collaborating on a conservation goal.



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