English Name : Indian star tortoise
Scientific Name: Geochelone elegans
Tamil Name: kal aamai
Description: The doomed carapace has conspicuous humps. Each hump has a yellow areola. and radiating yellow streaks. Shell elongate, markedly convex with the back and front margins slightly turned up. The color pattern is distinctive. The head and limbs are completely retractable.
Distribution and status: They are distributed from India (except Lower Bengal), extending west to Sindh province (Pakistan), and Sri Lanka. A large number of specimens of this species are found in the illegal wildlife trade in India. Few studies exist which have quantified wild populations and the effect of trade on them.
Habitat: Common in sandy tracks of coastal Tamil Nadu in Ramanatham district and semi arid and desert tracks of peninsular India
Habits: Spends most of time under cover when not foraging for food. The season of most activity is the monsoon when adults can be seen foraging around. In northern part of India it remains dormant during the cold season.
Food: Omnivores but inclined to be a vegetarian. Feeds on certain plants, fallen fruits, grasses and similar vegetation. Captive specimens feed on all kinds of vegetables. They also feed on snails, and animal and bird excreta.
Life cycle: The sexual dimorphism of adult Indian star tortoises is quite apparent. Females are considerably larger than their male counterparts. In addition, the females’ plastrons are much flatter than those of the males, which have a concave shape. Eggs 3-7 in number are laid in a pit dug by the female with her back flippers. When completed the nest is well camouflaged. Incubation may take 47 to 147 days. The hatchling is provided with an egg tooth for braking out from the shell.
Photo source: Dr. J. Subramanean