Springtime on the untouched veld of the Northern Cape, in South Africa, yields wild outbursts of flower power. The landscape harbors a wealth of bulbs — more than 1,350 species, including 80 endemics — that don’t, and can’t, grow anywhere else.
Four months after the fire, the blackened fynbos was regenerating in the way it has for millennia. I was genuinely surprised to see so many flowers in bloom, especially considering this was a good six weeks after it normally would begin drying out for summer.
I’m excited about François Leguat Reserve because it is quite literally dependent on giant tortoises to serve their natural ecological functions and help do their part in restoring a portion of the island’s coastal ecosystem. Today more than 3,000 tortoises live on the 20-hectare reserve — replacement species for the original tortoises that went extinct.
It’s February in St. George, Utah, snow is on the mountains, and I’m hiking in tortoise country with about 40 other tortoise nerds. We’re here for the Desert Tortoise Council symposium, and early arrivers like me are rewarded with a field trip.
There’s an entire industry set up to manage tortoise populations. At the center of the action is the Desert Tortoise Council, a brain trust of biologists, ecologists, and conservationists who have been training people for 30 years to help protect these tortoises.