R is for Radiated Tortoise

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Written for the A to Z blogging challenge.

WARNING: Referenced animal abuse. This is not a happy ending story, this was written to highlight the horrors of the illegal animal trade. I found a reference to the fact that some traders tape turtles into their shell so that they can be transported in a compact manner. Radiated Tortoises are supposedly the most beautiful, this and the fact that they are an endangered species make them very valuable, the animal trade only makes things worse as the babies are taken to be sold on the black market. I have written this from the view of one of those babies.

It was dark, pitch blackness that burrowed into the eyes. His legs had cramped a long time ago and he longed for the open sunny forest floor. His neck was bent at an awkward angle that left him unable to cry out. All around him there were small whimpers and cries that told him of others suffering the same fate as he was. The sticky substance that blocked his shell was starting to grow uncomfortable on the skin it touched. Yet he couldn’t pull any further in and it wouldn’t budge to let him out.

He called out for his mother, but she did not answer. He wasn’t even sure if she was in this horrible place with him. The darkness was surrounding him, suffocating him. He closed his eyes and tried to sleep, tried to imagine himself back with his mother, munching leaves and strolling slowly across the forest floor.

Slowly his breathing evened out. The forest became something real, something substantial that he could touch. His breathing slowed. The leaves came into sharp focus, birds twittering in the branches. His breathing stopped. There was his mother! He joined her side and together they set off, deeper into the dappled forest.

All around him the other turtles found their way home.

When the box reached the shores of a distant country only a few had survived the journey. Those that had died were dumped. The ones that survived were crippled or dumped later when they grew too big or their owners became bored of them. Not one was blessed with a happy ending.

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R is for Radiated Tortoise

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