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Video: Wild Romance on Eastern Cape Safari

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It seems that ‘bush fever’ affects humans… and tortoises! Leopard tortoises to be specific. Ranger Jo expertly captured this amazing footage of the mating ritual of the leopard tortoise at our Eastern Cape Safari Reserve.

Leopard Tortoises Common on Eastern Cape Safari

The leopard tortoise is the largest species of tortoise in South Africa. It’s habitat is widely spread throughout the savannahs of Africa and include the malaria-free Eastern Cape. Leopard tortoises are prolific within the greater Kariega wilderness.

The male leopard tortoise has a very direct approach to romance or seducing a female. He will follow her for some distance, all the while ‘butting’ her into submission, as depicted in the video. Judging by how subdued the female is in the footage, we can assume that she has been ‘butted’ for quite some time!

This subdued state is an indication to the male that his wooing has been successful and he proceeds to mount her. He climbs up onto her back and grips the female’s shell with his front legs. This can be tricky, as seen in the video, but once correctly positioned the concave plastron, or convex lower part of her shell, helps keep him in position.

Copulation is very graphic and noisy! The male will grunt, groan and wheeze until his business is done. The male then retreats leaving the female to lay her eggs.

It is such a privilege to watch such an accurate display of this mating ritual. It leaves one, yet again in awe of the perfection of nature.

Thank you Ranger Jo. This was some of you best work!

We would love to hear what other wildlife moments you would like us to capture. Please leave your requests as a comment below. Watch all our super wildlife videos on our Kariega Safari YouTube channel.