The Tortoise Project

There are around 40 species of tortoises alive today, native to every continent except Antarctica, and many islands. Tortoises are land-living creatures. They’re primarily vegetarians. And they’ve adapted to a wide range of climates and habitats, from montane forests to equatorial islands to some of the driest and harshest deserts in the world.

Tortoises were on Earth long before modern humans made their appearance. But of all the threats they’ve faced, and overcome — including the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs and ushered in the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction 66 million years ago that wiped out three-quarters of the planet’s plant and animal species — we are the direst, the most pernicious. Because of the activities of man, many tortoise species have already disappeared. Surviving species remain endangered due to habitat loss, climate threats, or being captured for food or for the wildlife pet trade.

A Galápagos tortoise eating at Darwin Center, Santa Cruz Island. Photo by Kevin Gepford.
Darwin Center, Santa Cruz Island. / Credit: Kevin Gepford

Yet, among us humans are champions who have devoted themselves to protecting tortoises and habitats, individuals who have exerted extreme efforts in the cause.

This site is dedicated to the lives of tortoises around the world and to the biologists, scientists, and saviors who have devoted their lives to protecting them.

I’m currently researching and writing a book that will take readers to the front lines where tortoises are fighting for their lives, from the Galápagos Islands to Aldabra Atoll, from the jungle highlands of Southeast Asia to the Mojave Desert of the American Southwest, to Africa and Madagascar, and many places in between.

~ Kevin Gepford