Setswana Name: 
Scientific Name: 
Geochelone pardalis, Psammobates oculifer, Kinixys belliana

Size: Kalahari Tent Tortoise (8-12cm, max. 14cm), Leopard tortoise (30-45cm, max. 72cm), Bells Hinged Tortoise


The endemic specie of the tortoise in Botswana is the Kalahari Tent Tortoise. It is a small tortoise with a low, domed carapace with a strongly serrated edge. It lacks a hinge. The nuchal is broad and often divided, and the paired gulares are longer than they are broad.

They are usually 11, sometimes 10 or 12, marginal’s that are strongly serrated at the front and back.

The scutes are only slightly raised; there is a single axillary scale. The beak is hooked and tricuspid. The forelimbs each have five claws and a few large, and one extremely large scale. Buttock tubercles are present in this tortoise. The carapace is light brown-yellow, with each scute beautifully marked with a radical pattern of 6-10 dark brown to black rays. Males have a longer tail and flatter shell than females, and an obvious plastral concavity.


This tortoise, although widely spread around Botswana is not well known by residents. It may dig into loose soil at the base of scrub, or retreat into small mammal burrows.

Historically, its shell was used as decoration and used by bushmen to make buchu pouches and despite protection, large numbers of this species are killed to supply the tourists demand for it.

It feeds on succulents and grasses and also the droppings of sheep and game.


It lives in arid savannah and srub desert. The most common habitat in Botswana is the Kalahari and neighbouring regions.


The female lays 1-2 eggs in December.