Egyptian Tortoise

True Wild Life | Egyptian Tortoise | The Egyptian Tortoise is the smallest land turtle in the Northern Hemisphere. The Egyptian Tortoise is a critically endangered neck-hiding tortoise. Once more widespread, its numbers are now dwindling. The species is extinct in Egypt, and global extinction is a looming threat unless more actions are taken to protect this species. They are on the brink of extinction due of habitat loss and because people capture them to make pets.

The Egyptian tortoises are herbivores, feeding on rough grasses, desert plants and fruit. They are most active during the warm periods of the year and least active during the months when it is very cold or very hot. During the cooler months, the tortoise is most active at midday. In the hot months, it is only active during the early morning or late afternoon and spends the rest of the day hiding in the cover of bushes or in rodent burrows.

Another unfortunate reality is the loss of habitat. Much of what used to be habitat for the Egyptian Tortoises has now become farmland or towns. Moreover, any remaining grassland has become a pasture for domestic livestock where many goats and sheep feed on the vegetation that used to be the tortoises' food. Many countries are cooperating to protect the Egyptian Tortoise, but many still believe their population will continue to drop further.

Ploughshare Tortoise (Angonoka)

True Wild Life | Ploughshare Tortoise (Angonoka) | The Angonoka or Ploughshare tortoise is one of the ten most endangered animals in the world. The Ploughshare Tortoise is a land tortoise that lives only on the island of Madagascar. They are considered the most threatened species of land tortoises because many of them have been captured to keep as pets, and because their habitat has been turned into farmland.

The Ploughshare Tortoise is characterized by a bump that looks like a shoehorn extending from its neck. This is actually part of the tortoises' shell on its stomach. Male tortoises will use this to flip over their opponent in a duel. The Ploughshare Tortoise is the most threatened species of land tortoises. One reason for this is their popularity as pets. Most tortoises retract into their shells to hide and protect themselves from their enemies. However, for hunters interested in selling them as pets, this instinct to hide and remain motionless in their shells at the sense of danger is a convenience because it makes them easier to catch. Many of the Ploughshare Tortoises have been captured to be sold as pets, thus reducing their population.

Environmental change also disturbs life for the Ploughshare Tortoise. Their habitats are disappearing due to frequent field burning in order to make pastures and fields. There has also been the emergence of a natural enemy that eats their eggs and hatchlings -- the bush pig. Originally, people brought the bush pig to the island from the African continent. Now, it has become a wild animal. Efforts to artificially breed and return the Ploughshare Tortoise to the wild are underway. However, this species grows at a very slow rate. it will take years for their numbers to increase because a Ploughshare Tortoise that has been released to the wild takes many years to bear children.

Southern Cassowary

True Wild Life | Southern Cassowary | The Southern Cassowary is a large bird that lives in New Guinea and Australia. They are flightless, but equipped with a strong kick. Their numbers continue to decline because of disappearing tropical rainforests and hunting. The Southern Cassowary also known as Double-wattled Cassowary, Australian Cassowary or Two-wattled Cassowary.

In appearance, the Cassowary looks like a short, heavily-built, black and blue Emu, Dromaius novaehollandiae. Both species are indeed closely related, belonging to the family Casuariidae, and both are flightless. The female Southern Cassowary selects a male to breed with and then lays a clutch of large green eggs in a scrape in the ground lined with plant material. Once the eggs are laid, the male is left in charge of the incubation and chick-rearing duties, while the female moves away, and may even breed again with another male. During the breeding season, the parental males are very aggressive, and attacks on humans have been recorded at this time.

The Southern Cassowary feeds mostly on fruit that has fallen to the ground. The Southern Cassowary will also eat anything from snails to small dead mammals. Southern Cassowaries normally feed alone. If two males should meet, they have a stand off where both birds stand tall, fluff up their feathers and rumble at each other until one retreats. If a male and female meet, the male will move away, as the female is dominant.

In parts of its range the Southern Cassowary is still relatively common, but numbers are decreasing because of habitat clearance and collisions with cars. Their fruit diet means they are commonly sighted in commercial orchards and gardens with fruit bearing trees. Interestingly, citrus fruit is not usually eaten. They can also be dangerous if cornered.

Box Turtle

True Wild Life | Box Turtle | The box turtle or box tortoise is a genus of turtle native to North America. Box turtles are land dwelling creatures with high, domed shells, hence the "box" moniker.  Box turtles are found all over the world, and are generally found living in mossy areas of the forest, or other damp habitats.  They are very territorial, and sometimes spend their entire lives near their place of birth.

North American box turtles are omnivores with a very varied diet as box turtles "basically eat anything it can catch". Invertebrates (amongst others insects, earth worms, millipedes) form the principal component, but the diet also consists for a large part (reports range from 30-90%) of vegetation. The diet is amended with fruits (amongst others from cacti, apples and several species of berry), gastropods. While reports exist that during their first five to six years, box turtles are primarily carnivorous, while adults are mostly herbivorous, there is no scientific basis for such a difference. They are strong, sturdy animals, and usually grow to be about 6 inches long.  Box turtles are usually dark in coloring with some yellowish markings, and the male of the species have bright red eyes, longer tails, and their plastrons are indented.

Box turtles are endemic to North America. The widest distributed species is the common box turtle which is found in the United States (subspecies carolina, major, bauri, triunguis; South-Central, Eastern and South Eastern parts) and Mexico (subspecies yukatana and mexicana; Yucatán peninsula and North Eastern parts). The Ornate box turtle is endemic to the south-central and South Western parts of the U.S.  while the spotted box turtle is endemic to North-Western Mexico only. The coahuilan box turtle is only found in Cuatro Ciénegas Basin.