A tortoise said to be 344-year-old by the royal rulers of Ogbomosho, southwest Nigeria, has died after being sick for a few days. Alagba, meaning the elderly one, lived in the palace of Ogbomoso in Oyo state and was believed to have healing powers that attracted visitors from far and wide. The elderly reptile was brought in the palace by the kingdom’s third leader Isan Okumoyede who ruled from 1770 to 1797 and has since lived in the palace. Reportedly the tortoise was already 100-years old when she was found and brought to the palace by Okumoyede, which derives the tortoise’s grand age of 344.
Alagba would eat only twice a month, the palace was so fond of the tortoise that they had kept two personal attendants to take care of Alagba while she was sick before breathing her last on Thursday. A Private Secretary to the current leader of the palace, Toyin Ajamu said to an international daily that the tortoise, which attracted tourists from different parts of the world would be missed not only by people in the palace but everyone who came in contact with it. The palace secretary explained that plans are underway to preserve Alagba’s body for historical records.
However, reptile experts have raised doubts over the age of Alagba considering its small size. Experts from the Bristol Zoo of England have reportedly claimed only giant tortoise can reach a grand age which may go up to 200 years in a rare case whereas other species usually live up to 70 to 80 years and may reach up to 100 years in the exceptional case.
Other than Alagba, the oldest known tortoise was Adwaita - an Aldabra giant tortoise that died in 2006 and is believed to have been 250 years old. Adwaita lived at the Alipore Zoological Gardens in Kolkata, India, was supposedly born around 1750 and was one of four tortoises that were brought back to India by British sailors from Seychelles as a gift for Robert Clive from the East India company.