Leopards can be relentlessly persistent hunters. It's this never-give-up attitude that has helped the big cats become such successful predators across a broad array of habitats. But porcupine hunting is no easy feat and only the most experienced cats can dispatch the prickly prey without injury. A young leopard in South Africa's Kruger National Park was recently filmed trying its best to overpower a particularly unyielding porcupine – a challenge that ended with bloody paws and a few fresh facial piercings.

The leopard-porcupine showdown took place earlier this month and lasted over an hour and a half – the action spilling onto the tarmac of a popular self-drive road much to the surprise and delight of tourists in the area at the time. The leopard makes several attempts to swat its prey into submission, but the porcupine remains steadfast and repeatedly turns its back on its attacker presenting the cat with a quiver of sharp spikes.


 

Cape porcupines -- Africa's largest rodents -- are equipped with a mass of quills that extend across much of their backs. It's a myth that the animals can shoot their spines like arrows, instead, when threatened, they will see off predators by shaking their hollow tail spikes to create an intimidating rattling sound. If the shaking doesn't deter any would-be attackers, they'll charge backwards at pace, skewering anything that gets in the way (leopards very much included).

The tactic seems to have worked for this rodent as the leopard clearly picked up a few injuries, and reports from those at the scene indicate that the porcupine bought itself enough time to scuttle into a burrow. Research suggests, however, that it's usually the leopards that come out victorious in these showdowns.

These altercations can be risky for both species. Some cats have learned how to breach the rodents' prickly defences by clawing their way underneath the sharp spines or by securing the porcupine's head. Its a tactic that takes some time to master, and this young cat has much to learn.