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Tortoise rescued from traditional healer's home

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Cape Town - An angulate tortoise doomed to become part of a remedy for enhanced sexual performance was rescued from the home of a traditional healer. Its companion, an endangered Cape mountain tortoise, was not so lucky.

The tortoises were found at the home of a traditional healer in Blikkiesdorp by animal rescue organisation, Tin Can Town.

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This small angulate tortoise was found in the home of a Sangoma (traditional African healer) in Blikkiesdorp. Picture: Tin Can Town

The animals were presumably going to be used for traditional medicine and Cape of Good Hope SPCA spokeswoman Belinda Abraham said tortoises were used in medicines that promised better sexual performance.

The tortoises were the latest animals to be found in the homes of traditional healers in Cape Town this week.


On Friday a pregnant Cape fur seal was found outside the home of a traditional healer in Philippi East and later had to be euthanised. Picture: SPCA

“We know that tortoises are sometimes used as a food source and in addition we find them with holes drilled into their shells and put on bed posts, with the belief they will give a better performance in bed.”

Abraham said the SPCA had no problem with healers and they were not out to target them, “but if it is in contravention of any law then we get involved”.

Tin Can Town named the surviving tortoise Fat Albert and said he was now in good hands and would receive the care he needed.

“Once he is fully rehabilitated, he will be released.”

Managing director of the African National Healers Association Simphiwe Mahlaba said while animal parts and skins were used in healing, they did not condone the killing of animals for traditional medicines.

Cape Argus

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