Techno-Tort featured in Bizarre Beasts: Protecting desert tortoises


The desert tortoise
Ravens pose a significant threat to the endangered desert tortoise by preying on juveniles, whose shells are thinner and more delicate.

In a recent episode of Bizarre Beasts, the popular YouTube series hosted by Hank Green and Sarah Suta, viewers were introduced to the peculiar battle between ravens and desert tortoises in the Mojave Desert. Titled “We Made These Ravens a Problem,” the episode showcases the Techno-TortTM, an innovative solution from Cornerstone Research Group (CRG) and HardShell Labs aimed at safeguarding the endangered species.

Ravens, known for their intelligence and adaptability, have posed a significant threat to desert tortoises by preying on juveniles, whose shells are thinner and more delicate. To address this pressing conservation challenge, CRG and HardShell Labs developed the Techno-Tort — a realistic 3D-printed replica of a juvenile desert tortoise with a deterrent designed to modify the behavior of predators.

The Techno-Tort serves as a multifaceted tool. Equipped with motion-detecting cameras, these decoys enable researchers to study raven behavior and attack rates, providing valuable insights into predator-prey interactions. The devices can be equipped with non-lethal deterrents, such as methyl anthranilate, to discourage ravens from preying on real tortoises without causing harm to the birds.

Through innovative technologies like the Techno-Tort, CRG remains committed to preserving biodiversity and protecting wildlife. The company’s collaboration with HardShell Labs exemplifies its dedication to developing sustainable solutions that address complex challenges.

“We are honored to have the Techno-Tort system featured on Bizarre Beasts,” said Mark Cridge, a team lead and research engineer at CRG. “This inclusion highlights the versatility of technologies developed to safeguard our nation, demonstrating their invaluable application in protecting endangered species.”

The episode underscores the importance of innovative conservation strategies in addressing complex wildlife challenges and highlights the collaborative efforts of researchers, conservationists, and technology developers in protecting biodiversity.

View the Episode: Watch “We Made These Ravens a Problem” on YouTube