African spurred tortoise

African spurred tortoise Geochelone sulcata

ClassReptilia
OrderTestudinae
FamilyTestudinidae
Sizeup to 80cm
Weightup to 100kg
Incubation8 months
Eggs15–30
Life-span50 years
Diet
herbivorous

Habitat
arid steppes

Range
Africa (southern edge of the Sahara: from Senegal to Eritrea)


These are the largest tortoises in Africa. They have 2–3 horn-like spurs at the back of their thighs, hence their name.
 
In the dry season they estivate – a phenomenon similar to hibernation. Their biological rhythm slows down and they take shelter from intense heat within their damp burrows. They also retreat to their burrows when it is too cold.
 
From the moment they hatch, African spurred tortoises are very aggressive towards one another. In the breeding season, males sometimes have violent confrontations during which they try to turn one another upside-down.
 
This species is endangered by the loss of its habitat in favour of urbanisation and livestock pastures. African spurred tortoises are also hunted for the illegal pet trade and traditional Asian medicine. Adults do not achieve sexual maturity until the age of about 15 – an obstacle to the ongoing creation of new generations, leading to populations dying out.




Status in the wild (Source: IUCN)

  • Not evaluated
    NE
  • Data deficient
    DD
  • Least concern
    LC
  • Near threatened
    NT
  • Vulnerable
    VU
  • Endangered
    EN
  •  Critically endangered
    CR
  • Extinct in the wild
    EW
  • Extinct
    EX

In the zoo