Working to assure the continued survival of viable populations of the desert tortoise throughout its range

Who We Are

DTC 40th Anniversary logo

The Desert Tortoise Council was established in 1975 to promote conservation of the desert tortoise in the deserts of the southwestern United States and Mexico. The Council is a non-profit organization comprised of hundreds of professionals and laypersons who share a common concern for desert tortoises in the wild and a commitment to advancing the public’s understanding of the species. For the purposes of the Council, desert tortoise includes the species complex in the southwestern United States and in Mexico, currently referred to as Gopherus agassizii and Gopherus morafkai.


What We Do

The Council promotes conservation of the desert tortoise in the wild in a variety of ways.

  •  We hold an annual Symposium in the spring of each year to bring together scientists, managers, and concerned people to share the latest information available on the desert tortoise and its management.
  •  We hold an annual techniques Workshop to help field workers and others learn how to comply with procedures needed to protect the desert tortoise.
  •  We provide educational grants and recognition to those working in desert tortoise conservation. Each year we give the David J. Morafka Memorial Research Award and the Best Student Paper Award at the Desert Tortoise Council Annual Meeting and Symposium.
  •  We provide information to individuals, organizations and regulatory agencies on matters potentially affecting desert tortoise science, conservation and management within the historical range of the species.
  •  We produce a quarterly newsletter to keep our membership informed.
  •  To learn more about the Council online, read our bylaws and quarterly newsletter.

Announcement: Desert Tortoise Photos Needed for BMP Document

For the last several months, the Board of Directors have been reviewing over twenty years of published data on the Agassiz’s desert tortoise to synthesize a set of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for restoring desert tortoise habitat. To better illustrate this document, and to help our decision-makers and the public understand the most salient points about how tortoises interact with habitat features, we are reaching out to the tortoise community for imagery from anyone willing to share. We are interested in photos of the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) specifically in the Mojave Desert (not the Sonoran Desert) and would, of course, provide full photo credit to the photographer for any photos used.

We are especially interested in images that show the following:

1. A desert tortoise burrow below a perennial plant, zoomed slightly out to show context, or a tortoise using a perennial plant as cover site.

2. Photos of the Desert Tortoise Natural Area in California. An ideal one would be a view along a fence line showing a comparison of inside versus outside the fence.

3. Any photos of a tortoise actively foraging on an annual or perennial plant.

4. Any photo of a tortoise with cattle or feral burros or horses around it.

5. Any photo of tortoise on a burned area.

We would not need a lot of photos, just a few selected that you may be willing to share. Photos can be emailed to Scott Abella at