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Leopard Tortoise
Geochelone pardalis

  • Habitat: Arid to semi-arid habitats
  • Range: South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire, Angola, and Zambia
  • Natural Diet: Leaves, seeds, grains, nuts, and flowers
  • Status in the Wild: Common


Fun Facts

  • The African leopard tortoise is the fourth largest tortoise species in the world.

  • An average adult leopard tortoise is 18 inches in length and weighs approximately 40 pounds.

  • The tortoises are yellowish-cream in color with high dome-shaped carapaces.

  • The carapace has black markings that make the tortoise look very attractive.

  • Leopard tortoises are herbivorous.

  • When threatened these animals retract pulling in their heads and legs under their shell.

  • Sexual maturity is reached at 12 to 15 years of age. 

  •  Females dig holes in the ground with their hind legs in which they lay eggs. They lay three clutches of eggs of 5 to 30 eggs


Leopard tortoises inhabit savannah and semi-savannah type habitats in several African countries


Conservation Threats

Major threats to wild populations of this species are:

  • Habitat loss due to agricultural practices, livestock grazing, and  collection of wood.

  • Tortoises are also captured for the pet-trade and human consumption.


The leopard tortoise is the fourth largest tortoise in the world


Since these tortoises have black blotches on their shells similar to a leopard's spots, they were named "Leopard tortoises"

Leopard tortoises sport variations in their shell patterns as you can see the differences between the sisters in the image above

Some countries such as Ajerbaijan have placed the leopard tortoise on a stamp  

(photo courtesy@ Wikimedia Commons)


Map Distributional range in African countries