The largest species of tortoise found on the African mainland, the African spurred tortoise is surpassed in size only by tortoises found on Aldabra and the Galápagos. Weighing an impressive 105kg, these tortoises are sandy in colour, and get their name from the large overlapping scales found on their forelimbs.
Mating can take place anytime between June and March, but often occurs just after the rainy season from September through to November. A female may dig as many as five nests, before designing which one to lay her clutch. These clutches are normally made up of between 15 and 30 eggs. Once laid, these eggs are incubated underground for eight months before the young emerge.
The African spurred tortoise lives in hot, arid regions where permanent sources of water are hard to come by. Their range includes the southern edge of the Sahara, Senegal, Chad, the Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Threats and Conservation
Unfortunately the African spurred tortoise faces a number of threats including; habitat loss through urbanisation and overgrazing by domestic livestock, poaching for food, the illegal pet trade and for use in Japanese medicine. It is currently classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.