Going to the Zoo

Collecting tortoises at Takamaka. Out to the loo at 3.30am on 20th of April and met Arkon (foreman) and the two Georges going out for a three day spell to Takamaka to collect tortoises. Wondered how’d they’d make it tough the surf?

Walked piroque up close and a team of twelve or so men carrying them down – all ways up. They weigh much more than a hundred weight and sometimes four men have to heave them up. Staggering down the beach with them making faces but all working willingly. Three or four men in boat to rescue and restrain them from clambering over the side.

Piroque full and they passed ropes back and forth over them to hold down when boat went off and out through surf, about eight men sitting on gunwhale leaning inwards pushing tortoises back with both hands. Saw them draw alongside Nordvaer and wished to be there for photos. They are to live on deck so should see more ofthem. Hope they cut some food branches though we went along this morning and they had plenty of grub then – brought each a.m. by boys and Patricks grandma (he has no parents here).

No more than fifty tortoises a year are supposed to be exported. Seventeen a while back; thirty one in this lot. Going to Mombasa for world zoos. Some penned for more than 3 months here. Others brought from Takamaka a week ago. All big. Odd trade for a sanctuary but no restriction on taking tortoises – nor hawksbill turtles – only green.