Rare Travancore Tortoise Spotted in my Backyard
Mangaluru : During the wee hours of 2.30 am on 13th April 2016 while walking in my garden I sighted a Travancore Tortoise crawling among the plants.The spotting extends the range of the Travancore tortoise has till now been recorded as being found along the lower reaches of west face of the Western Ghats. This tortoise was sighted at Manchi-Kolnad 12.9°N 75.03°E (Bantwal Tq., D.K. Dt., Karnataka)
The range of the Travancore tortoise is known to be confined only to the hills of Anamalai and Chalakudy. It is to be noted that this range is to the South of the Palghat Gap, a thirty Kilometre break in the range continuity of the Western Ghats. The gap is natural barrier to most animals. Sharath BK (1990) was the first to record the occurrence of the tortoise north of the Palghat Gap.
So the sighting of this Travancore tortoise at Manchi Kolnad, extends the range of the reptile further West of the foothills and Western face of the ghats. To learn little more about the “The Travancore tortoise (Indotestudo travancorica) “-it is a large forest tortoise growing up to 330 millimetres (13 in) in length. It primarily feeds on grasses and herbs. It also feeds on molluscs, insects, animal carcass, fungi and fruits. It occurs in hill forests at 450–850 m elevation.
Males combat by ramming their shell during their breeding season between November and March. It makes a shallow nest in the ground and lay 1-5 eggs. Hatchlings are 55–60 mm in size. The tortoise is hunted and it is threatened due to forest fires, habitat destruction and fragmentation.
by Dr Kumar Arunachalam Kumar