Cyberdiary: Leopard vs. Porcupine

A porcupine is a large rodent that presents a good meal to a skilled predator

A porcupine is a large rodent that presents a good meal to a skilled predator

A few weeks ago we had an incredible sighting of a leopard killing a porcupine. A porcupine is an unusual prey item for leopards, but it is not unheard of that leopards will hunt them. It can be a tricky opponent, and it does require a degree of skill to effectively hunt one of these large rodents and escape injury from their quills at the same time. How could we forget how the ageing Rock Drift male, otherwise known as Tjololo, met his end while attempting to kill a porcupine and some of the quills became lodged in his breathing passages?

We were watching a porcupine walking down the road while out on a night-time safari. It was thrilling enough to catch a glimpse of one of these rare creatures, but you can imagine our excitement when a young male leopard arrived on the scene. It was the Son of the Dudley female born in 2009, that had been attracted by the rodent. The leopard showed experience beyond his years when he pounced on the porcupine without any hesitation, quickly reaching for its head where he was able to grab it by the snout and suffocate his prey. A few of the quills penetrated the leopard’s stomach and chest areas, but he would easily remove them.

It did not take the leopard long to kill his prey, and he immediately began to remove the quills and open the carcass. After feeding for a short while, he began to drag the carcass away, presumably to a safer spot away from scavengers and other predators.

It did not take the son of the Dudley female long to suffocate the porcupine

It did not take the son of the Dudley female long to suffocate the porcupine

He removed the quills before he could begin feeding

He removed the quills before he could begin feeding

After opening the carcass he dragged his catch safety

After opening the carcass he dragged his catch safety

Many thanks to guests, Mark and Sally Lavelle, who provided the images and video.

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