I am writing you today about a topic near and dear to me, the plight of the Desert Tortoise. These gentle animals have been around for hundreds of millions of years, but are listed as ‘threatened’ today, virtually entirely thanks to mankind. Without going into the details here, please believe me when I say that we humans are equally capable of helping the tortoise to survive and to enjoy a robust revival, and that’s where you and I enter the picture.
In 2012, Carol and I formed a non-profit organization called The Desert Tortoise Conservancy, (TDTC) and obtained the 501(c) 3 registration from the Internal Revenue Service, so that contributions to TDTC are tax-deductible to the full extent permitted by law. TDTC’s tax identification number is 90-0838402.
Since 2012, we’ve received generous donations from many donors, including you. Thank you! We’ve had several parcels donated to us, the largest roughly 20 acres. Unfortunately, none of these parcels proved suitable for fencing and releasing tortoises. However, they have been sold with the proceeds used to grow our ‘war chest’. We’ve used some of the cash we’ve accumulated. We’ve ’rescued’ and ‘re-homed’ numerous tortoises. And have constructed a wonderful state of the art ‘home’ for tortoises in transition. During this time, we’ve worked on building awareness of the plight of the tortoise and how we can turn this around. We’ve written a number of articles and letters to editors, educating the public. I have been invited to serve as the featured speaker at numerous meetings of tortoise and turtle clubs, and I have done so repeatedly. We’ve been honored to be awarded a grant from the California Turtle and Tortoise Club (CTTC) to further the work we are doing.
If you grace us with your donation, here’s what we plan to do:
First, we will acquire a large parcel of land conducive to the desert tortoise.
Second, we will clear, clean, and re-vegetate the property, if necessary, to restore it to support tortoises.
Third, we will install fencing to keep humans out, and to protect tortoises from exiting the property and risking road mortality.
Next, we will construct housing for juveniles. Tortoises are at their most vulnerable during their first 5 years of life. Few survive to adulthood in the wild, as they are eaten by ravens, hawks, road runners, coyotes and other predators. However, utilizing our facilities, we project a 90% or greater survival rate by their fifth year, at which point they are significantly less vulnerable. At that time we will release them on our property. In the years ahead, we will acquire additional properties to support more tortoises. In this way, and through education and awareness programs, we will help the tortoise population to grow.
Ultimately, we will build a tortoise awareness center, a place where we can educate the public and entertain visiting children with actual tortoise sightings. Through heightened awareness, our awareness center will help the tortoise to recover and prosper.
Our center will rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home tortoises that are either found wandering where an owner cannot be identified, or those whose owners can no longer care for. We will facilitate adoption by families seeking tortoises.
I am asking for your help. Please send whatever you feel comfortable sending. No contribution is too small – or, of course, too large. If you wish to use PayPal, or any major credit card, simply visit our website, www.deserttortoiseconservancy.org. And now, in celebration of World Turtle Day and to encourage your immediate donation, when you donate $500 or more this month, we’ll send you a Desert Tortoise Conservancy turtleneck. It’s the least our tortoise friends would expect us to do for you, to recognize your support.
We’ll update you on our progress from time to time. And, when your travels next bring you to the Palm Springs area, please call or email, and we’ll introduce you to some of these wonderful animals.
Thanks for reading this and thanks in advance for your consideration.
All the best,
President, The Desert Tortoise Conservancy
305 W. Arenas Road
Palm Springs, CA 92262