While on the journey back from a mangrove walk last week we spotted something rare and unusual – a giant leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis)! Leopard tortoises are historically absent from the coast and this species on Wasini island is most probably introduced at some point. We had once before seen a small leopard tortoise on the island of Wasini – but it had been killed and brought to base so we never imagined one would survive to grow so large!
The tortoise’s straight carapace length (SCL) was about 30cm, and straight carpace width (SCW) was around 20, hiding under prickley undergrowth near to the main path from Wasini to Mkwiro. We quietly took a photograph for later identification and left it where it was. – later we identified it as the Leopard Tortoise; the fourth largest in the world reaching up to 46cm in length. This tortoise is herbivourous and each individual is uniquely patterned with black markings.