A few weeks ago, we witnessed an amazing scene on one of our camera stations. At 4:14 am on August 26, one of our young male leopards BB was caught hunting a small porcupine. The cameras captured the whole event from when the first porcupine passed by, followed by BB, and then the attack itself.
We first sighted BB in October of 2011 and estimate he is about a year and a half years old. Leopards begin hunting on their own around this age, and this may be one of his first attempts at hunting a porcupine.
Because of their sharp quills, porcupines are not easy prey. Adults are also quite imposing, so the best chance a leopard has is with a young one, like BB has chosen here. Unlike some other carnivores, leopards are ambush predators and must be quiet enough to get very close to the animal before they strike. We can see that BB stalked his target from behind and then attacked when he was within range.
BB did not get a good enough hold of the porcupine and it escaped. He still has a lot to learn before he becomes a great hunter.
The little one got away, but not without leaving some quills behind. The following morning, a volunteer passed by and collected the quills that remained, unaware of the exciting event that took place the night before.