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Humpback Whale conservation actions


Male desert tortoises have horns on their chest!

The Desert tortoise is one of the most elusive animals found in the western deserts of  the USA because they spend up to 95% of their time underground. Like all reptiles, they are cold blooded, which means that they cannot control their own body temperature, so they hibernate during the hottest parts of the summer and during the winter.


This tortoise avoids extreme temperatures by digging burrows and escaping into their underground homes. In fact, a lot of desert dwellers come out only during the night when it’s cooler outside. These burrows provide shelter not only for the desert tortoises themselves, but also for other lizards, snakes, and birds. This role in their environment has made them an important “ecosystem engineer” where they live. If they are picked up or handled in the wild, they release urine as a unique defense strategy which can cause them unnecessary water loss. This can be life threatening in the desert’s dry conditions, so they should not be handled in the wild.

Hatching of a Mojave Desert Tortoise, USGS

This species is currently listed as threatened by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.


Habitat loss, road mortality, and being collected for the illegal pet trade are some of the main threats to the desert tortoise that prevent them from thriving. Their homes in the desert have not been spared as people convert more and more land to make roads and fields for grazing. The Mojave desert tortoises have also suffered from upper respiratory tract disease and have struggled to recover from this infectious illness.

Humpback Whale conservation actions
Humpback Whale conservation actions

Tortoise Group

Tortoise Group is a Nevada non-profit 501(c)(3) with the mission of educating and advocating for the well-being and protection of the desert tortoise since 1982. They are the only organization in Nevada authorized to facilitate adoptions of desert tortoises. They also partner with several other agencies for collaboration on wild desert tortoise conservation. Their work includes consultation visits to homes and schools, including suggestions for providing suitable backyard tortoise habitats; holding monthly programs March through October with guest speakers, and arranging speakers to visit classrooms adult and youth groups.

The 4 states with access to the Mojave desert, Nevada, southern California, Utah and Arizona, do have laws in place to protect them such as making it illegal to capture them without a permit.


Our allies at Tortoise Group have suggested these actions that can help protect the desert tortoise:

  • Never buy or sell a desert tortoise. Check with your state laws to see where you can legally adopt a pet tortoise.

  • Never remove a desert tortoise from the wild unless it is injured. If you see a tortoise in the road, you can move it safely out of traffic in the same direction it was headed.

  • Limit backyard breeding by only keeping one pet tortoise and keep mating pairs separate.

  • Stay on designated trails when hiking or operating an off road vehicle to protect desert tortoise habitat.

  • Never release pet tortoises into the wild to reduce the spread of diseases  that could threaten to wild tortoises.


Humpback Whale conservation actions
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