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A Giant Tortoise called McGregor

By Chantal Pelzer 8 months ago
Categories Mahe and Curieuse

Hi guys, my name is MacGregor. I am one of the 150 Aldabra giant tortoises living on Curieuse Island. I used to live at the Rangers Station, where everyone called me King Kong because of my size. I am a really big tortoise, around 160cm long, the biggest on the island in fact. All tortoises have a particular number on their shell – mine is 095. My ancestors came from Aldabra, that’s an island in the Seychelles, near Madagascar, but I now live on the GVI camp on Curieuse Island. How did I come to be here, so far from Aldabra? Well…

Firstly, a bit about my ancestors. They think they originated from Aldabra but floated to other islands and colonised them. Because of our long neck, we can still breathe while floating in the sea. Also, we’re able to survive without food for a long time. So we were once living on many of the islands in the Seychelles. Unfortunately, we were a good source of food for the first humans to discover the Seychelles, and so all but us ones on Aldabra eventually died out. Another way us Giant tortoises get to other islands in the Seychelles is by human intervention. That’s what happened in my case; in 1978, they brought hundreds of tortoises, myself included, from Aldabra to Curieuse Island on boats. They were worried about losing all the Aldabra Giant tortoises if they only remained in one place, and also wanted to be able to study us. Since then I have been living at the Rangers Station.

Then, one day about 3 months ago, I took the decision to start the big journey to the other side of the island. I wanted to see the big wide world. So I left the Rangers’ Station and headed down the beach. There was a big hill to climb, but that was no problem for a giant tortoise named King Kong. I mean, the real King Kong from the film climbed the Empire State Building in New York, so this ‘little’ hill on Curieuse Island wasn’t too much of an obstacle for me. Three hills later, I reached flat ground again and came to a nice forested area with lots of yummy leaves to eat. After we ate some of those, I had enough energy for the final leg of my journey, to a place called the ‘GVI camp’. A woman with ginger hair crossed my path and greeted me in a very friendly manner. I stretched out my neck to have a closer look at her and immediately she started to give me a good scratch. I really enjoyed this, so stood up higher so she could reach a little easier. I decided there and then that I would stay here on the GVI camp with the staff and volunteers. It was the GVI people who decided to give me my second name ‘MacGregor’. They didn’t know my previous name ‘King Kong’, but MacGregor is fine, too. Curieuse used to be the place where the leper colonies were situated. The doctor, who treated the leprosy patients, was called McGregor, and I’ve been named after him. His house is now a museum where tourists can learn about the history of the island.

But enough about history – back to the present. It was the beginning of my new life on the GVI camp. All the humans are so friendly here and they love taking selfies with me. I try to look as good as a top model on the photos, but it doesn’t work every time. During the day most of the humans are out on surveys, only one or two stay at the base and do some weird things like raking all my tasty fruits away. Sometimes that’s really annoying, when I’d like to have a nice juicy fruit and all of them are raked to the edges of the path. Anyway, last weekend I had a little problem with the footbath in front of the volunteers’ dormitory, where they rinse the sand off their feet before going into the dorm. It was in my way, so I tried to walk through it, but it proved to be tougher then I thought it would be. In the end I was the winner of the battle between Giant Tortoise and Orange Footbath – I broke it into dozens of pieces. It won’t cause me any more trouble! When the volunteers came back from their weekend trip, they noticed the broken footbath and realised I must be the wrongdoer, and laughed loudly about it. However, I was still proud of my victory over this rude orange footbath, which had the courage to step into my way.

Like humans, tortoises get tired at night as well, so now I’m going to sleep on my favourite sleeping place in the camp, in the front of the dining table. I feel safe there during the night and the next day I get some nice good morning greetings from the volunteers, who pass me by to go to out on the morning surveys. Like all giant tortoises, I can get very old – over 100 years! Fortunately I’ve got some years left before I’m an old man. I’m sure I could spend my last years here at the GVI camp. Come say hi if you happen to pass by.

Yours truly, MacGregor a.k.a. King Kong.