Vryheid paramedic offers roadside assistance to roaming tortoise

This roaming reptile was carefully assisted across the R69 by Frikkie Bekker.

WHY did the tortoise cross the road?

We’re not quite sure. Perhaps it was following the chicken… Who knows? But regardless of its reasons, local paramedic for KZN Private Ambulance, Frikkie Bekker made sure that the roaming reptile got across safely when he spotted it along the R69 between Vryheid and Hlobane.

According to Bekker, he saw the tortoise attempting to cross the road in the vicinity of Black Horses Lodge and sensed that the creature may have been in danger. Showing that he has a big heart for all creatures and not just human patients, Frikkie turned the ambulance around and cautiously blocked off the lane going from Hlobane to Vryheid, of course making sure that it was safe for other road users to do so, and ensured that the wandering half-shelled critter arrived unharmed on the other side of the road, where it disappeared into the field.

ALSO READ: Because all lives are important

AND: What actually happened on Utrecht Street yesterday

Superstition states that a tortoise crossing the road in front of you is a sign of good fortune to come, while Native American lore dictates that the tortoise crossing in front of you serves as a reminder that “slow and steady wins the race”. There is also an old wives’ tale that if you see a tortoise crossing the street, it means it’s going to rain soon. And it may well be worth noting that this little guy crossed Frikkie’s path just after a massive rainstorm.

“Why didn’t he just pick it up and help it across?” you may wonder…

Well, in the wild, if a tortoise is picked up it’s usually by a predator and is a sure sign of danger to the tortoise. It should therefore be noted that it will fight back and you may just lose a finger to those powerful jaws as they try to defend themselves. The tortoise’s first instinct is to thrash about and claw at anything it can. Holding it tightly can limit its ability to breathe and will cause the tortoise to become stressed.

“I didn’t want to disturb the poor thing too much,” stated Frikkie. “It was very skittish. I also avoided handling it as it was very defensive and would have probably chomped my finger off…” he added.

  AUTHOR
Elaine Rodway

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