Some experienced leopards have mastered the art of porcupine hunting. They know just when to pounce and exactly where to paw the prickly prey to avoid serious injury. This leopard is not one of them:

Filmed by Donovan Piketh while on safari recently, the clip shows just what can happen when a predator ends up on the wrong end of an angry porcupine. Piketh and a friend were following the leopard in a vehicle when they first spotted the two porcupines. "As soon as the leopard saw them, it changed into stalking mode and we knew something was going to happen," Piketh told Latest Sightings.

The ambitious cat charged at one of the porcupines before adjusting its aim to target the second spiky rodent. A poorly timed pounce gave the porcupine enough time to point its armour at the cat, and the attack ended as quickly as it had started – with the leopard coming off second best.

Research suggests it's usually the cats that come out on top in most porcupine-vs-leopard altercations; however, encounters like this are risky for both species. Catching porcupines is a skill that only the most experienced predators possess. Some cats have learned how to breach the rodents' prickly defences by clawing their way underneath the sharp spines or securing the porcupine's head. When threatened, porcupines shake their quills loudly to scare off approaching attackers, and if that doesn't work, they reverse at speed. Anything in the way gets skewered. 

"The leopard needed to spend a good few minutes to get the quills out of him," says Piketh. "Eventually, it gave up trying to get the last of the porcupine's quills out and walked off into the bush."

"I think it was very rare and something you will only ever see a leopard do once," he joked.


Top header image: Jose Cuadra, Flickr