Leopard tortoise crossing puddle in road
Caption: Leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis) making its way through a puddle while crossing the road, Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D (Digital Rebel XTi); Lens: Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM; Focal Length: 300mm; Shutter speed: 1/000; Aperture: f5.6; ISO: 400.

The leopard tortoise, the largest tortoise found in South Africa, is widely distributed through sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in semi-arid areas with thorn trees, shrubs and dry grasslands where the annual rainfall is around 100mm.

The average size of this tortoise is around 40 to 50cm (16″ to 20″) long, although they can grow up to 60cm (24″) long and weigh up to 50 kg (22lb), with an average weight around 15 kg (7lb).

The upper part of the straw-colored shell (the carapace) has a V-shaped slit in front through which the neck and head protrude. The short hind legs have four toes on each foot and the legs, head and tail can be retracted into the shell for protection. Like many other reptiles, the leopard tortoise hibernates during the cold winter months.

See also Kruger National Park Safari Pictures for a selection of images taken in Kruger. While most the images have peviously appeared on this blog, they are categorized under species, so thought it would be useful to add a separate Safari Pictures selection where photos can be viewed by location.

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