A 100-year-old tortoise has been rescued from a South African warehouse where it was found chained up and ready to be used in making traditional medicines by a trainee witch doctor.
The tortoise was found at a Pick n Pay warehouse in the urban area of Philippi in the South African province of Western Cape where management said it was being kept there by a staff member without their permission.
Animal Welfare Society (AWS) of South Africa said they were informed about the chained female leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis) by an anonymous tipoff.
Senior inspector Mark Levendal visited the scene on 9th October and found the 100-year-old tortoise shackled by a five-metre long chain through a hole in its shell.
Levendal said the large reptile was also malnourished and straining to reach food.
An AWS spokesperson said: “Our senior inspector Mark Levendal was alerted to the plight of a leopard tortoise that was cruelly tethered with a long chain and kept on the property of Pick n Pay in Philippi.
“He was unable to establish who the tortoise belonged to or how it ended up there.”
The AWS said that the tortoise had been bought there by a worker of Liebentrans Logistics who allegedly got it from an uncle as a present.
The worker is said to be a trainee sangoma, otherwise known as a witch doctor.
Following a meeting with the warehouse managers, AWS said that they are satisfied that the tortoise was apparently kept there without their prior knowledge and that the company has already launched an investigation into the matter with a view to consequences for those responsible.
Officials added that the leopard tortoise’s age was established by counting the number of rings on its shell.
The tortoise is prized because different parts of it are used in traditional medicine to treat a range of human ailments.
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Story By: Lee Bullen, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
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