Whatever you do, don’t run!

Pamushana · April 2019
By Japhet Diza
Field Guide

It was the usual morning routine of not knowing what we are going to see out there, but the moment you board those beautiful open vehicles your heart is full of joy in knowing that you are going to meet Mother Nature at close quarters. After an early morning cup of Zimbabwe’s finest coffee your eyes are wide open and looking through thick bushes for any movements, especially those of the illusive spotted cats. We went through Banyini open plains and there was lots of plains game, a crash of white rhinos and plentiful birdlife.

A few minutes later, as we were pottering about on the plains, we were called for a lion sighting up in the hills. As we arrived at the sighting Jenny Hishin was parked under a beautiful mountain acacia tree with the whole River Pride lying in front of her vehicle. You could hear her camera clicking away because it turned out that two of the youngsters were trying to get to the delicious meat of a leopard tortoise.

This little tortoise was really in serious trouble, being tossed in air and batted everywhere, but it remained tucked tightly in its shell.

The game went on and on in the heat of the day, and as it continued all the adults lay about sleeping, as though they didn’t know what was happening.

It was amazing to watch these youngsters going through such an interesting exercise in which they failed to break open the little tortoise.

Eventually they admitted defeat and, one by one, drifted off to nap.

The little tortoise thought this was its chance to escape – but what a mistake! One of the adult females leapt up and pounced on it the moment it took a few steps. She took it in her mouth, lay down and started crunching it. This was the end of the tortoise, and the cubs learnt a lesson in how to break open a tortoise shell.

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