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Protecting Desert Dwellers

Over the past hundred years, human activity has removed much of the rare antelope brush desert habitat in the south Okanagan. The Desert Heritage Centre and Nk'Mip Resort are located on the southern end of the Osoyoos Indian Reserve where development occurred at a slower pace. As a result, much of the remaining antelope brush habitat, and many rare plants and animals remain on the Indian Reserve.

The Osoyoos Indian Band wants to expand their vineyards and development to provide a strong economy for band members. But they are also aware of conservation needs to protect special habitats and wildlife. The Band has participated in many scientific studies involving species at risk. 

The desert centre receives Environment Canada support to study Western Rattlesnakes and Great Basin Gopher snakes. Biologists track the snakes using radio telemetry to learn about their habits and use of the surrounding habitats. Large snakes are implanted for one year with radio transmitters so that their daily movements can be tracked.

A population study started in 2003 now includes over 700 individual rattlesnakes. Communal den sites, travel corridors and seasonal habitat requirements for the Western Rattlesnake and Great Basin Gopher Snake are mapped and described so that we can protect critical snake habitat including den sites, travel corridors, egg-laying or rookery sites, and summer foraging areas. A snake barrier fence has been erected to prevent snakes from wandering onto resort roads where they get run over.

The rattlesnake Research Program is the recipient of the Aboriginal Tourism British Columbia "Power of Education" award.

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Image by Britt Felton

Adopt a rattler

Do you want to get involved with our snake conservation? "Adopt a Rattler" certificates support our research an make unique gifts (view a sample certificate). You will receive a photo and information about individual snakes in our study.


Supporters at this level will receive:

  • Adoption certificate with color photo of one snake


Funding at this level go towards the purchase of pit tags (microchips). All rattlesnakes captured on site receive a pit tag as identification. This pit tag stays with them for life. Supporters at this level will receive:

  • Adoption certificate with color photo

  • Meet with biologist to see a pit tagging (microchip implant) procedure on a live rattlesnake and discus the research project.

DEN LEVEL - $250

Funding will go towards the purchase of radio transmitters. Supporters at this level will receive:

  • Adoption certificate with color photo

  • End of season reports tracking one rattlesnake's activity on site

  • Meet with biologist and observe the pit tagging (microchip implant) procedure

The Nk'Mip Desert Cultural centre is uniquely positioned to engage an educate local citizens in species recovery efforts. Reptile and amphibian conservation is a focus of our visitor programs and summer research activities. The centre works with surrounding businesses on the Osoyoos Reserve and town of Osoyoos to promote land use practices that benefit species at risk. Each year the desert centre trains Nk'Mip Resort managers and staff on snake management and identification and gives additional outreach workshops to local vineyard crews, campgrounds and residents who may encounter the five species of snakes living in this area.

Other projects include creating a Great Basin Spadefoot breeding pond and removing invasive weeds, and restoring native habitat around the resort.

Download a PDF of our Adoption Form here.

Plan Your Visit

The Osoyoos Indian Band welcomes you to our Desert Cultural Center, where you will discover the stories, people, art and history of our area. View our hours and admission rates.

Explore & Experience

Explore indoor and outdoor cultural and nature exhibits. Discover the desert ecology and wildlife in “Critter Corner” and “Living Land” displays. Hear the legends of Sen’klip (Coyote) in two multi-sensory theatres.

Shop For A Unique Gift

Visit our Gift Shop for indigenous handcrafted art and merchandise for everyone from children to discerning adults.

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