The Ogbomoso Monarch of Oyo state on Thursday, 3rd October lost its oldest tortoise, porplarly knwn as ALAGBA.
The palace tortoise of Soun, ALAGBA died at the age of 344 after brief illness, making her the oldest tortoise in Africa.
Alagba became a popular breed upon ascension of the throne of the current Soun of Ogbomoso land, Oba Oladunni Oyewumi, who provided conducive shelter and health support for the tortoise during its lifetime.
Confirming the death, Private Secretary to Oba Oyewumi, Toyin Ajamu, stressed that the tortoise, which attracted people from all walks of life from Nigeria and abroad, will be greatly missed not only by the palace household but everyone who came in contact with ALAGBA during her lifetime.
He said, ” Alagba had lived in the palace for centuries. The tortoise played host to many monarchs in Ogbomoso in the past.”
”Alagba became popular because Oba Oladunni Oyewumi, Soun of Ogbomoso land, used his personal resources to cater for her well being.”
“The tortoise had two staff members of the palace, dedicated to her. They provide food, health support and other logistics, so as to make sure she gets the best treatment.”
“Often times, Kabiyesi shares great moments with Alagba. On a daily basis, Alagba, had tourists visiting her from different part of the world.
”The palace household, Ogbomoso community and stakeholders in the tourism sector are mourning Alagba’s passage”.
Plans, according to the palace secretary are being made to preserve Alagba’s body for historical records.
The revered reptile, believed to have healing powers and attracted visitors from far and wide, was brought to the palace by the third leader of Ogbomoso, Isan Okumoyede, who reigned from 1770 to 1797.
Isan Okumoyede reigned just over 200 years ago. This means the tortoise would have already been 100 when she was found, for her to have reached the grand old age of 344.
Meanwhile, reptile experts have cast doubt on Alagba’s alleged age.
Tim Skelton, curator of reptiles at Bristol Zoo, said it would be “impossible” for Alagba to have lived that long.
“A hundred years is a very good age,” said Mr Skelton. “Giant tortoises can live up to 200, but that’s a very rare exception.”
Alagba is not a giant tortoise. After looking at photos, Mr Skelton categorised Alagba as an African spur-thighed tortoise.