Translocating Desert Tortoise at the Ivanpah Project
 

Translocating Desert Tortoise at the Ivanpah Project

by Kristin Hunter

At our Ivanpah project, we are working closely with the state and federal agencies to provide the highest levels of care for the desert tortoise found on the project site. Check out the cool video in the sidebar on the right. Last month, the project’s desert tortoise biologists began springtime tortoise translocations. Over fifty desert tortoise were moved back into their natural habitat in the Ivanpah Valley, just outside of the project’s boundaries. These tortoise will remain within their “home range,” in a habitat with familiar soil composition, food sources, weather and terrain. The biologists will monitor these tortoise and the tortoise in the nearby area for up to five years to ensure a seamless transition.

Additionally, we had over 50 new hatchling tortoises born at the Ivanpah facility last fall and they are now living in our head-start facility (learn more here). These newborn tortoise and other young tortoises under a certain size will be cared for on-site for about five years, or until they reach a size where they are less prone to be predated on by ravens, coyotes, kit foxes and other predators. Only about 1-2% of newborn desert tortoise survive to adulthood in their natural, wild habitat, so we’re happy to be able to help these tortoise reach a safe size before relocating them back into their natural habitat.

The desert tortoise community is eager to learn from the wealth of data we’re gathering about this important species. In addition to monitoring the translocated tortoises and caring for their hatchlings for five years, we are also monitoring the “recipient” population, or the translocated tortoise’s new neighbors. We’re pleased to support this important research, learn more about the species and determine additional ways to help the Ivanpah Valley desert tortoise population once again flourish.