December 13, 2013 |
In recent years, California's Agassiz's desert tortoise population has been decimated by shootings, residential and commercial development, vehicle traffic, respiratory disease and predation by ravens, dogs and coyotes. Now, dwindling populations of the reptiles with scruffy carapaces and skin as tough as rhino hide are facing an even greater threat: longer droughts spurred by climate change in their Sonoran Desert kingdom of arroyos and burrows, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 14, 2013 |
He (or she) was a tortoise, an enormous creature who spent his (or her) days meandering the desert. They were travelers, clogging the interstate as they headed east as the weekend came to an end. When their paths intersected, it didn't end well. On Sunday afternoon, which authorities describe as their rush hour on this stretch of Interstate 10 between Los Angeles and Palm Springs, a tortoise in the slow lane certainly caught drivers' attention. Shortly after 3 p.m., California Highway Patrol officials said they received dozens of calls from travelers, spotting (and dodging)
September 27, 2013 |
So the German people have spoken, and Chancellor Angela Merkel has been reelected. That means the European Union will continue to be a tortoise. Next May, following the European Parliament elections, we will discover just how slow and unhappy a creature it is. Then, across the next decade, a larger, Aesopian question will be posed: Can the European tortoise outrun the American eagle and the Chinese dragon? Or can it at least keep pace with them? Resounding though Mutti ("Mom") Merkel's election victory was, Germany's new government still has to be formed.
July 8, 2013 |
Forget the John Deere tractor: giant island tortoises make the best lawn mowers, according to a new study. In an effort to control the alien plants that had dominated a small island in the Indian Ocean for decades, scientists introduced two types of land tortoises. Round Island , a 529-acre island off the coast of Mauritius, has a long history of onslaught by invasive species. The island was overrun in the 1800s by rabbits and goats brought in by humans. The critters stripped the island bare, threatening a host of native reptiles and a substantial seabird colony.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 18, 2012 |
A surveillance drone is buzzing overhead. The booming of heavy artillery can be heard in the distance. On the desert floor, Thelma and Louise, the grand dames of the desert tortoise population at the massive Marine base at Twentynine Palms, are blissfully munching on their breakfast of mixed fruit and vegetable slices. At one time the two were the pets of a Marine general. But he deployed to Iraq, and there is no room in a combat rucksack for tortoises, despite their status as the state reptile of California.
October 16, 2012
Should we save the desert tortoise, or plow over its habitat to build solar power plants that can help us save ourselves? It's a question that has arisen frequently in recent years as solar developers have flocked to California's Mojave Desert in search of generous federal incentives to turn the sun's heat into electricity, raising conflicts with conservationists and Native American tribes who think all this "progress" will ravage natural and...