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Bowsprit Tortoise

Tortoises | Namibia

Introduction: The Bowsprit Tortoise (Chersina angulata) is limited to the coastal desert regions of south-western Namibia. They are known to become active when their body temperature reaches 20° C, which is usually throughout the year, less for the colder winter spells. Chersinos is a Greek word for 'land tortoise'.

Distribution: Found in the Sperrgebiet (the restricted diamond area in the far south-west of the country) and from Aus to Luderitz and in a southerly direction towards the Orange River.

Diet: Succulent steppe vegetation. Insects are sometimes consumed.

Colouring: Usually light brown with dark (sometimes black) triangular markings around the base of the shell and orange/red markings on the bottom plates.

Breeding: No data exists for the species in Namibia, but in South Africa they lay between 2 to 6 eggs per year, with 1 to 2 eggs per nest. Incubation periods vary from 94 to 198 days with sexual maturity reached at 7 to 8 years for females.

Weight: Medium-sized tortoise of 1.8 to 2.1kg. Males are bigger than females.

Dangers and predators: Threats include Verreaux's eagle, also known as the Black Eagle, that drops the tortoise in flight to crack open the shell. Other predators include crows, secretary birds, herons, jackals, mongooses, suricates, baboons and humans.

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