African spurred tortoise
African spurred tortoise Geochelone sulcata
Sizeup to 80cm
Weightup to 100kg
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 evaluatedNE
- Data deficientDD
- Least concernLC
- Near threatenedNT
- Critically endangeredCR
- Extinct in the wildEW