safari bush sightings
a surprising porcupine death
It was a lovely afternoon and I was driving six Spanish guests on their first-ever safari in Africa. The start of the safari was great, with a big male elephant just outside Earth Lodge. We spent a good 20 minutes watching him wallowing in a small pond.
We had a really exciting afternoon; we stumbled across a crash of rhino and 3 buffalo bulls, and then the Land Rover got stuck in some mud….
After digging ourselves out and with mud all over us (because the guests wanted to participate), we continued our safari, joking and laughing about the incident. Suddenly Rondy, my tracker, told me to stop. Out of the bush came a porcupine; he didn't run away and he even posed for 1 or 2 photos. He then disappeared into the long grass. "What an amazing sighting" we all said… Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, the porcupine reappeared, moving towards us in a defensive posture with its quills raised and aimed at us.
All of a sudden, in a flurry of spots, a huge male leopard came flying out of the tall grass and tackled the porcupine. There was quite a struggle in and out of the thicket. When everything settled and we had the chance to get a closer look, we found that the leopard had killed the porcupine - but the porcupine didn't die without putting up a good fight. The leopard had 3 quills in his back leg and 4 quills in his chest. Once he had made completely sure that the porcupine was dead, the leopard attended to his own injuries by pulling the quills out with his teeth and licking his wounds.
This was by far the most amazing sighting I have witnessed in my years of guiding and it will definitely be a very hard one to beat in the future.