Prickly visitor saved

Firefighters attending to the trapped porcupine. Kneeling is Jason Bond with Cicil Diamond next to him.

A Silverglades man found himself in a prickly situation when he found a porcupine stuck in a stormwater drain.

Willie Nel was busy beautifying the greenbelt in the area near his home on Friday August 17 when he found a porcupine stuck in a drain at the end of The Glade Road.

Mr Nel said the porcupine was making a sound similar to that of his Weed Eater and that is what led him to the drain.

Not knowing how to get the porcupine out of the drain, he called his neighbour, chairman of the Fish Hoek Community Police Forum (CPF) Andre Blom.

Mr Blom realised they would not be able to free the porcupine on their own and started calling around for some help.

His first call was to the SPCA but they told him they could only handle wild animals on instruction from Cape Nature. He then tried to call Cape Nature but could not find an after hours number for them.

Mr Blom said he then called around some more, and half an hour later the Fish Hoek fire brigade arrived and freed the porcupine.

Mr Blom said the porcupines had been visiting the area and the greenbelt regularly since he had moved to Silverglades in 1990.

However, he said, they usually visited at night and he suspected that this porcupine had been looking for food during the night and had then found itself in a “prickly situation” in the stormwater pipe.

The Cape porcupine also known as the South African porcupine is the largest rodent in Africa and can weigh up to 20kg. It eats mostly plant material such as fruits, roots, bulbs, and bark.

They are heavily built animals, with stocky bodies, short limbs, and an inconspicuous tail. The body is covered in long sharp spikes or quills and the rest of its body is covered with bristly black and white fur.

Fire station commander, Jerome Carelse, said they often helped the SPCA with animal rescues. Cats stuck in trees were the most “popular rescues”.

Mr Carelse said they had arrived in Silverglades at 5.15pm and
Firefighters had opened the drain and helped the porcupine to turn around and guided it out of the drain pipe.

SPCA spokesperson, Belinda Abraham, said the SPCA had a dedicated team of inspectors who dealt with wildlife-related calls and they had a short-term care facility for wild animals.

However, she said there had been a misunderstanding when Mr Blom had called, as the person who had taken the call had mistakenly thought the porcupine needed to be relocated.

“We explained to Mr Blom that porcupines use stormwater drain systems as underground ‘roadways’ to travel extensive distances without having to run across busy roads. The SPCA doesn’t interfere with healthy wild animals that are roaming around urban areas without good reason,” she said.

Ms Abraham added that Mr
Blom had been given a wildlife inspector’s cellphone number and advised to call the inspector should the porcupine not move off on his own after dark.

* For animals in distress, call the SPCA at 021 700 4158/9 during office hours or 083 326 1604 after hours.

At the time of going to print
Cape Nature had not responded to enquiries about an after hours number. However, they can be contacted at 087 087 8250, or email reservation.alert@capenature.co.za