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The secret life of the hunter-killer tortoise

The pursuit and killing of the chick took 92 seconds, Gerlach said. He also said that, previously, there had only been anecdotal reports of tortoises crushing and eating other animals, but no hard evidence.

“Eating other animals was not surprising, pretty much any herbivore will eat a bit of meat if it comes across it, it’s a bit of free extra protein, so eating carrion is expected. But actually killing was astonishing to see,” said Gerlach.

“This video clearly shows deliberate pursuit and killing of another animal, which can only be described as hunting.

“It’s more than simple opportunism, in that it saw the chick from a distance and made a direct approach to it. It didn’t just find itself next to the chick and take a lucky bite.”

However, their lack of speed and dexterity mean the tortoises are still one of the least efficient predators on the planet.

“In most ecosystems, potential prey would be too fast or agile for giant tortoises. For birds, only flightless chicks that will not attempt to run away would be vulnerable,” they wrote.

The Telegraph, London

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