Hand Crafted in Kingdom of Swaziland
Width: 2 1/2 inches
Length: 3 1/2 inches
Height: 3 inches
Amongst the mountains that encircle the tiny African Kingdom of Swaziland is one that resembles a basking crocodile. At its summit is the world's most ancient iron ore mine, dating back 43 000 years and at its foot is the remote village - NGWENYA- (Siswati name for "crocodile"). Here a small group of Swazi craftsmen and women - with age old artistry - breath life into enchanting interpretations of the animals and birds of Africa.
About the Tortoise.
Tortoises or land turtles are land-dwelling reptiles. Like their marine cousins, the sea turtles, tortoises are shielded from predators by a shell. The top part of the shell is the carapace, the underside is the plastron, and the two are connected by the bridge. The tortoise has both an endoskeleton and an exoskeleton. Tortoises can vary in size from a few centimeters to two meters. Tortoises tend to be diurnal animals with tendencies to be crepuscular depending on the ambient temperatures. They are generally reclusive animals.
Female tortoises dig nesting burrows in which they lay from one to thirty eggs. Egg laying typically occurs at night, after which the mother tortoise covers her clutch with sand, soil, and organic material. The eggs are left unattended, and depending on the species, take from 60 to 120 days to incubate. The size of the egg depends on the size of the mother and can be estimated by examining the width of the cloacal opening between the carapace and plastron. The plastron of a female tortoise often has a noticeable V-shaped notch below the tail to facilitate passing the eggs. Upon completion of the incubation period, a fully-formed hatchling uses an egg tooth to break out of its shell. It digs to the surface of the nest and begins a life of survival on its own. Hatchlings are born with an embryonic egg sac which serves as a source of nutrition for the first 3 to 7 days until they have the strength and mobility to find food. Juvenile tortoises often require a different balance of nutrients than adults, and therefore may eat foods which a more mature tortoise would not. For example, it is common that the young of a strictly herbivorous species will consume worms or insect larvae for additional protein.
Tortoises generally have lifespans comparable with those of human beings, and some are known to have lived longer than 150 years. Because of this, they symbolize longevity in some cultures, such as China.
About the Turtles.
Turtles are reptiles, characterised by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs that acts as a shield.
The earliest known turtles date from 215 million years ago, making turtles one of the oldest reptile groups and a more ancient group than lizards and snakes. About 300 species are alive today, and some are highly endangered.
Like other reptiles, turtles are ectotherms—varying their internal temperature according to the ambient environment, commonly called cold-blooded. Like other amniotes (reptiles, dinosaurs, birds, and mammals), they breathe air and do not lay eggs underwater, although many species live in or around water. The largest turtles are aquatic.