As a guide I have a bucket list of various sightings that I dream of seeing. The more time I spend in the bush, the more amazing things I have seen over the years, the more outrageous my bucket list seems to become.
A few nights ago, I managed to tick one major sighting off my bucket list that I have been hoping, dreaming and imagining for many years. We were lucky enough to spend the afternoon with the Mhangeni pride and the four coalition males. The lions were restful for most of the afternoon until it darkened into evening and began to cool. The pride soon became active and started to move with the four male lions in tow. Suddenly we saw the group clump together and it looked like they were surrounding something of interest.
My imagination started to race, trying to figure out what they had found… To my surprise it was a rather unfortunate porcupine surrounded by 13 lion and four male lions. This is not an ideal place to be, especially if you feature on the menu of a lion!
All was not lost however and the porcupine began to shake its tail (known as a rattle) – the sound of the quills makes a distracting noise. The porcupine began to run backwards into any lion that would come too close for comfort, a common defense mechanism for a threatened porcupine. If the porcupine manages to get close enough to a predator, it does not shoot its quills as many people may think. Rather the quills have micro-barbs, which hook into the face or paws of a predator that may get too close. The quills simply pull out of the porcupines skin without causing damage to the prickly creature. The predator then has to deal with a painful quill. The downside of this is that there is a chance of the quill breaking off in the skin and this can cause a major infection. The porcupine simply re-grows any lost quills – the quills are a type of fused hair.
Watch this footage captured below of the prickly encounter!
This very lucky porcupine managed to survive. The lionesses of the Mhangeni pride lost interest and began to move off. The cubs soon lost their bravery and backed off, leaving the porcupine to disappear into the night and live to see another day.
Written, Filmed and Photographed by: Lucien Beaumont