Porcupine sign vandalised in Glencairn

A porcupine sign in Glencairn was sawed in half last week.

Glencairn residents are upset after a porcupine sign was vandalised last week.

The sign, which was posted to warn residents about the presence of porcupines in the area, was sawed in half.

Resident Janette Adriaens, started a porcupine awareness group on Facebook in August last year and suggested putting up the signs.

The community raised money for two signs made by artist Bryan Little who is known for his pieces made from reflective materials.

The signs were put in November last year.

“The purpose of having these signs erected is to alert people to be mindful, to drive slowly, observe the speed signs and be cautious as porcupines live here. I can’t believe that someone took a saw and cut the one sign in half,” Ms Adriaens said.

Another resident, Martin Venter, said: “All of us in this community take the safety of its residents, animals and wildlife seriously, which is why we raised the funds for these signs to be made and erected.”

In June, the City posted wildlife warning signage along five roads in Constantia, Noordhoek, Simon’s Town and Tokai where animals, including baboons, porcupines, tortoises and caracals, are known to cross.

According to Cape of Good Hope SPCA chief inspector Jaco Pieterse, porcupines are the second most-rescued animal at the Cape of Good Hope SPCA after birds.

“The SPCA averages three porcupine call-outs a week throughout the year; more during winter. The injuries we most commonly treat in porcupines are those caused by vehicle collisions at night i.e. being run-over. Cases of ensnarement, poisoning and serious burns from veld fires are also common.”

They also get called out a lot to rescue porcupines from stormwater drains, but the animals use the network of tunnels to get from one neighbourhood to the next, safely undetected, he said.

“You may spot a porcupine scuttling down a storm drain and assume that it needs to be rescued; a porcupine in a drain is best left alone. Porcupines mate for life and mom porcupines (called sows) will often go into drains to give birth, raising their young (called pups) in the drain until they are old enough to venture out on their own.”

Porcupines, he added, are an important part of the ecosystem.

“By digging up bulbs, they aerate the soil and by debarking certain trees in search of a tasty snack, they regulate the growth of alien invasive trees that would otherwise crowd out our indigenous plant life.”

Although the Cape porcupine is not endangered and is listed as being a species of “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), according to Mr Pieterse, their numbers are in decline in the Cape due to unchecked poaching for their meat and to supply their quills to the traditional medicines market.

He added that it was a misconception that porcupines “shoot” their quills out in self-defence.

“They cannot shoot their quills and they prefer to reverse-charge at a threat, sticking their sharp quills into the soft flesh of any animal (or human) threat. Porcupine quills are also not venomous and they do not contain any type of poison.”

Anyone spotting a distressed, injured or sick porcupine is advised to immediately contact the Cape of Good Hope SPCA at 021 700 4158/9 (office hours) or 083 326 1604 (after hours) or email to inspectorate@spca-ct.co.za