Saturday, June 1, 2013
Albera tortoise sanctuary
With our shopping completed we took the road through the town to the Albera tortoise reproduction sanctuary. The Alberas are the most easterly stretch of the Pyrenees, and home to the last natural population of the Mediterranean tortoise of the Iberian peninsulas. Here there are installations for the breeding of the tortoises in order to boost the natural population. The different aspects of their biology are studied in order to heighten the need for their protection and conservation and to save the tortoise from extinction.
As well as the tortoises there were local turtles that were part of a reproduction program since it is thought that there are only about 500 of them left in the wild. Their numbers are reduced because people captured them to keep as pets and they then bred with the common red-eared turtle that people kept as pets. There were lots of these huge red-eared turtles that had grown from the little turtles that pet shops used to sell. No wonder people released them as some of them were huge. There was even a snapping turtle in one pond. These I remember since one used to make the difficult trip from the river every June 18 to lay its eggs in our back garden. You didn't want to get near her as she was extremely vicious.
We decided to return by the mountain route where we spotted something that looked like a ferret but turned out to be a polecat climbing the rocks at the side of the road. Because the weather wasn't overly hot we were lucky to see the lizard and polecat as well as the very active tortoises.