Canon PowerShot S61S
Place: Kruger National Park, South Africa
One of the TOP TEN in a challenge in AFRIKAANS
16 April 2013.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Wildlife (Testudinidae) or land turtles are a family of land-dwelling reptiles of the order of turtles (Testudines). Like their marine cousins, the sea turtles, tortoises are shielded from predators by a shell. The top part of the shell is the carapace, the underside is the plastron, and the two are connected by the bridge. The tortoise has both an endoskeleton and an exoskeleton. Tortoises can vary in size from a few centimeters to two meters. Tortoises are usually diurnal animals with tendencies to be crepuscular depending on the ambient temperatures. They are generally reclusive animals.
Most land based tortoises are herbivores, feeding on grazing grasses, weeds, leafy greens, flowers, and some fruits. Pet tortoises typically require a diet based on wild grasses, weeds and certain flowers. Certain species occasionally consume worms or insects, but too much protein is detrimental as it can cause shell deformation and other medical problems (Wikipedia)
Turtles and tortoises have been on planet Earth even before the dinosaurs. They are that old. The difference between a turtle and tortoise is that the turtle stays in water while the tortoise stays on land. But both creatures have one thing in common: they live to a ripe old age, from 120 years to almost 200 years!
Some of them are huge, like the giant tortoises of the Galapagos Islands – they weigh beyond 200 kg; their shells are more than a metre long. The beauty is that they hatch from eggs that are no bigger than a hen’s!
They manage to live so long because the important parts of their bodies do not become weak with age, as in the case of humans and birds. In fact, they continue to grow very, very slowly for as long as they live. Their body does not need much energy to survive. They can live for long periods without water or food.
Turtles and tortoises face other risks to their life. After birth, their shells take some months to become hard. Till then, they are an easy prey for birds and fish. The other risk to their life comes from pollution of their living environment.