Failed to escape

Dr. Pramod Patil

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Porcupines, jackals, hyenas and vultures are vital components of a complex and fragile scavenger ecosystem that is rapidly disappearing. Interventions such as sign boards, speed breakers and awareness would certainly help to reduce accidents like this one.

The Indian porcupine (Hystrix indica) is an elusive nocturnal rodent. It is covered in multiple layers of quills. The longest ones grow from its shoulders to about a third of its length. Its tail is covered in short, hollow quills that it rattles when threatened.  When attacked, it raises its quills and rattles the hollow tail quills. If the predator still persists, the porcupine launches a backwards assault, hoping to stab its attacker with its quills. It does this so effectively that in most cases such assaults end with severe injury to the predator.

While driving through the grasslands of Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, well known for blackbucks and Great Indian Bustards, we came across this large dead porcupine by the side of the road. It was probably hit by some heavy vehicle. The skull was fractured and the neck was also damaged.

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