Angulate tortoise on the chase

Trending at the moment are the angulate tortoise; it’s mating season and they’re defending their patch against competitors.  Truculence is a good descriptive fit for the males sweeping their territory.  I was amused to find that as I crossed through one gutsy male’s area he came dashing over to investigate.Angulate tortoise on the beat.

The males have neck long plates with which they flip their rivals and watching the chase, endurance and stamina come into play.  One stumble and the game is over.

Angulate tortoise_The chase is on Anugulate tortoise _ the flip

The loser once flipped has no means of righting itself and will die a slow death.Angulate tortoise_vanquished

We’re noting that there is activity in the area which was affected by the fire last March in the Cape Point reserve.  Good to see that they’re making a comeback – even though their shells are charred, they’re in feisty fettle.

Angulate tortoise with charred shell.

20 thoughts on “Angulate tortoise on the chase

      1. And then the crows come to feast and the insects, ants come to mop up …. But i foiled the process by rescuing this one and moving him further on. Not the ethical thing to do, i know – but their numbers are down after the fires. I feel guilty for messing with nature – now i worry about the imbalance of genders….

    1. Reluctantly, I have to admit I did come to the rescue. But I carried it off way down the road before releasing it to live another day. With the recent fires their numbers have been reduced, so reasoned my guilty conscience in meddling with nature.

    1. Oops initially misread your comment Stephen. Having trounced his opponent the winner went scuttling off to claim his female. Admit I did sneak in and rescue the loser. Moved him way down the road and out of the other’s range.

  1. It often perturbs me that there has to be an alpha male at the expense of the life of another less fortunate one. In our society it would almost be like Hitlerism and the pure race syndrome, but thankfully grace is shown to the weaker and most vulnerable.

    1. Yes it is perturbing, but isn’t it interesting that we tend to root for the less fortunate – such as the prey rather than the predator. I wondered about this fighting pair as the larger of the two was flipped. Surmised that the more nimble would make a better mate and maybe pass on better genes? Nature is good at balancing out numbers, but must admit that i did turn this loser back over – reckoning that their numbers have taken a battering from the fires.

    1. I’m glad i’m not alone in supporting the underdog in this case :)! And there i was today watching ‘machismo’ male agamas (lizards) doing their ‘push-up’ routine. All the way down to those six-pack abs!

  2. I was fascinated by the shot of the tortoise with the charred shell – it is clearly an amazing material to protect its owner from roasting inside it.Would they try to bury themselves in the event of a fire as presumably they can’t run away from a fast-moving blaze, or would they just withdraw into the shell and hope for the best? Or might they have been hibernating?

    1. Jane thanks for your comments. It is an interesting subject – the survival of species which have co-evolved with the vegetation type and the fire regime. The slower moving reptiles can survive by taking shelter under rocks or in underground burrows. I’ve also been fascinated to see that neighbouring tortoise are gravitating into the burned areas to feed on the young shoots. So I’m guessing that they transfer across into new pastures. I think it also depends on the heat of the fire as to whether their shells are durable protection; the wind driven fires are more intense so many charred remains. In a previous devastating fire (in 2000) it was estimated that between 75,000 – 200,000 tortoise perished. One would think that the population would crash. I haven’t been able to find any stats on how quickly they can rebreed and restore numbers, i rather suspect there has been a dramatic decline. Am keen to find out more and will post when i have any further information.

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