Brown Stabilo Finepoint ink sketch and W&N in my Moleskine 200gsm Nature Journal.
Yesterday was the first time in about 6 weeks that Torti surfaced from her semi-hibernation state and took a stroll around the garden (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa). Torti is my Leopard or Mountain Tortoise whom we rescued, as she was destined for the pot.
Southern Africa is very fortunate to have the largest variety of animals in the world. It is home to more than 800 bird species, 150 mammal species, about 50 snake and lizard species, 11 tortoise species and thousands of invertebrate animals like insects and arachnids.
South Africa is also home to the largest land-based mammal (the Elephant), the tallest (the Giraffe), the fastest (the Cheetah), the smallest (“dwergskeerbek”-mouse), the largest non-flying bird (the Ostrich) and the largest flying bird (the Kori bustard).Afrikaans – Bergskilpad
The Mountain tortoise inhabits a wide range of habitats, from dry Bushveld to moister coastal plains and is the most widely distributed and also the biggest of the 12 species of land tortoise found in Southern Africa. It is believed to take its name ‘mountain’ tortoise from its size rather than its habitat. (‘Leopard’ tortoise comes from the black and yellow blotched patterns on its high-domed carapace.)
The background colour of carapace yellow, and is blotched and streaked in black, most vividly in younger specimens; older animals may appear almost uniform deep brown. The plastron is straw-coloured with irregular black markings. Length 30-60cm; weight 8 – 20kg.
Though not averse to gnawing on an old bone, the mountain tortoise is mostly vegetarian, feeding on a variety of plant matter, including grass shoots, succulents such as cotyledons, fungi and fruit.
Adults usually weigh from 10-15 kg, but some specimens of over 40 kg have been recorded in the Eastern Cape.