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Leopard Tortoise

Tortoises | Namibia

Introduction: The Leopard Tortoise (Geochelone pardalis) is the most common species of tortoise in Namibia. It is the largest of the country's tortoise species and adults are rarely confused with any other tortoises. It is also known as the mountain tortoise although it is not just found in those regions. The name 'mountain' is more likely to be attributed to its size rather than location. Geios is Greek for 'earth', chelone for 'tortoise' and pardalis means 'leopard'.

They are most active after sunrise and retreat when temperatures reach 30º C before returning for a further period of foraging. As with other tortoise species they hibernate in the colder, winter months.

The popularity of the Leopard Tortoise is emphasized by it being the most likely of the country's tortoise species to be a pet. Many visitors to The Cardboard Box Backpackers have encountered one of its most favourite residents foraging around the camp site and bar/pool areas.

Distribution: Found throughout Namibia less for the Namib Desert regions, including a variety of habitats such as the dwarf shrub savannah of the southern Namibia, the eastern sandy Kalahari Desert, the central highlands and areas in the north central areas of the country with thorn-bush and dray woodland savannah. It is uncommon south of Grünau, Karasberg and Ariamsvlei in southern Namibia. Found in gardens from Oranjemund in the far south-west to Katima Mulilo and along the Zambezi Region (formerly the Caprivi Strip).

Diet: A wide variety of wild foods including mainly herbs, grasses and to a lesser extent trees/shrubs. The Devil's Thorn (Tribulus terrestris), herb seedlings and desert thistle are among favoured food sources.

Colouring: The shell varies in size and colour and can be either smooth or domed in shape. It is usually a uniform dull brown or a bright pattern with black and yellow blotches which gives it a leopard-like configuration, hence the common name. Juveniles are mainly yellow with black spots.

Breeding: Leopard tortoises are prodigious breeders, females able to give birth throughout the year. Several clutches of eggs are produced, numbering between 5 to 18 eggs. The rainy season usually heralds the onset of hatching. Incubation periods last between 178 and 485 days.

Weight: 10 to 20kg: Adult females are usually larger than males.

Dangers and threats: With hatchlings being produced in such comparative large numbers, eggs are especially vulnerable, falling prey to predators varying in size from ants, dogs, jackals, mongooses, suricates, crows, storks, hornbills, ostriches, secretary birds to humans. Fires, human and natural, electric fences and vehicles add to the mortality rate. Tourists travelling through the Spreetshoogte Pass can occasionally observe Verreaux's Eagle preying on the Leopard Tortoise.

Dornhugel Guest Farm

Situated north-east of Grootfontein this serves as an gateway between the Caprivi and central Namibia

Fiume Lodge

Around 80km north of Grootfontein this lodge acts as a gateway to Namibia's north east (the Kavango & Zambezi Region)

Fiume Bush Camp

A satellite camp to Fiume Lodge, the Bush Camp requires a minimum two night stay and is the base for top quality guided excursions to visit a local Bushman / San community

Gabus Game Ranch

Ten kilometers outside of Otavi this lodge offers a relaxing environment and is ideal for walkers, wildlife enthusiasts and birders

Ghaub Nature Reserve & Farm

Initially a Christian mission station this property was converted into a lodge in 1999. The Ghaub caves are an excellent opportunity to get dirty while exploring a fascinating cave system - the lodge provides a guide and necessary equipment

Kambaku Safari Lodge

Horse riding, game and beautiful surroundings are just some of the reasons to stay at this lodge

Khorab Safari Lodge

A convenient stop close to Otavi

Kupferquelle Resort

Large resort offering a restaurant, bar and Olympic sized pool in Tsumeb

Makalani Hotel

Situated near the center of Tsumeb this is a popular hotel.

Minen Hotel

A courtyard atmosphere, traditional garden and German cuisine can be found at this Tsumeb hotel.


Close encounters of the wild side - experience the Namibian veld on foot with Bruno, an enigmatic & knowledgeable guide

Ohange Lodge

10 peaceful chalets provide accommodation at this lodge just north of Otavi

Paradise Rest camp

a campsite in a rural setting 80km north of Grootfontein on the main road towards Rundu & the Zambezi Region

Peace Garden Lodge

Basic accommodation just a few kilometers from the town of Grootfontein

Roy's Camp

An eclectic lodge, allows for visits to a San community as well as offering reasonably priced overnight accommodation

!Uris Safari Lodge

Situated 20km west of Tsumeb

Zum Potjie

Between Otavi and Tsumeb.

Self Catering Namibia