Don't blink or you'll miss them!
Did you know that the island of Mallorca still has wild tortoises inhabiting it? In fact there are two species running about in its countryside; the Mediterranean turtle (Testudo hermanni) which is quite abundant and found in wide areas of the island, and the less frequently found Greek Turtle (Testudo graeca). The latter is only found in localised areas and is classified as vulnerable.
As much as possible is being done by the environmental authorities to protect these little creatures and an example of this took place this week when a 190 strong creep (yes, that really is the collective noun) was released into the wild at the Finca Galatzo.
The 57 adult and 133 juvenile tortoises had been gathered together from various sources – injured, rescued, lost and so on – by the Consortium of Recovery of Fauna of Illes Balears (COFIB) which receives about 1000 tortoises a year.
Now is the ideal time to release the slow moving animals as the will have mated over the last month or two and will start laying their eggs (on average 3 or 4, but up to 7) and nesting very soon. They've all had a medical check up to make sure they're ready for the rigours of parenthood, which is vital as the tortoises can only survive in the wild as it is not allowed to keep them domestically as pets.
These lucky little tortoises have been released in one of Mallorca's most beautiful areas, the Finca Galatzo in the Sierra Tramuntana near Capdella. It's a traditional farm of some 1,401 hectares, over 1000 metres high in the mountains.
It's now publicly owned and a perfect place to spend a day out in the fresh mountain air where you can find centuries old vestiges of the island's rural past and its agricultural and livestock economy - a restored oil mill for the production of oil, coal bunkers, old lime kilns or the traditional roter stands (peasant huts) for example.
It doesn't cost anything to enter and the main old finca building has picnic tables, public toilets and even a small botanical garden and a chapel. You can find out all the details of the Finca Galatzo by clicking the link and if you're lucky, you may even see a tortoise!