Many people think that taking a tortoise out of the wild and bringing them home is a great idea. What they do not know is that these tortoises cannot be re-introduced into the wild in most circumstances. In 2007 Cape Nature gave me two tortoises to home. They had been taken out of the wild and kept in captivity by someone who had ‘lost interest’ in looking after them. She had five tortoises and all five needed to be rehomed. One of the conditions of rehoming them is that we do not allow them to breed. You cannot stop them from mating, but Cape Nature asked that we destroy the eggs. We took home two females, one of which had already been ‘covered’ by the male. Unfortunately, I did not know she had laid a clutch of eggs, and I only discovered this when I found a baby tortoise. We had really bad rain storms and she drowned as a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time as a part of my garden flooded.
A few years ago a friend told me they had found 4 tortoises on her father-in-law’s farm. He had brought them back from the West Coast over a period of time. My friend had plans to just return them into the wild but I told her this was not a good idea. I took 3 of them to keep but nature has intervened here. We had devastating wild fires in our area and the eagles moved closer to the village to catch their prey, and the very small tortoises became an easy target for them.
Now, the purpose of this post is not about my tortoises but on why they need to be left where they are – or kept in captivity. Tortoises can only be released into the wild into the region they originate from. Ordinarily, if a tortoise is to be released, it needs to be released into the exact region they come from as determined by genetic testing. Tortoises cannot be released into the wild if they are ill, or are suffering from an incurable disease or terminal illness. They cannot be released into the wild if they carry a transmittable disease, have parasites or are injured. Furthermore, if a tortoise has been kept in captivity – even if free to roam in your garden – for more than two months, it cannot be released into the wild. If you know for a fact that the tortoise has been out of its own environment for less than two months it still needs to be quarantined before being released. And, an expert needs to determine the best area for release so that the tortoise is released into a friendly, safe, and healthy environment.
If you find a tortoise in your garden and do not know what to do with it, please contact your local Nature Conservation Society. The most important factor here is to rather leave the tortoise where it belongs, in the wild. As I want my tortoises to be as close to their natural environment as possible I grow herbs and plants in my garden that they would find in the wild. I have a lot of indigenous plants and I know that this will provide enough food for them. I do however keep a bird bath at ground level full of water so that they have ready access to it.
One of my most prolific herbs is oregano and so as to not share all of it with the tortoise, I used some up to flavour extra virgin olive oil. You can use any herb of your choice here so let your imagination run wild!
- 5g oregano leaves
- 150mls olive oil
- Place the oregano leaves into a mortar
- Add 15mls olive oil and bash the leaves with the pestle
- Add a further 45mls of olive oil and mix in
- Pour into a sterilized glass bottle
- Top with the rest of the olive oil
- Leave to stand for 24 hours before using
What I blogged:
- one year ago – Recipe Developing And Writing
- three years ago – How To Sterilize Glass Jars
- four years ago – Dried Shrimp Relish