By Nabeelah Mohedeen
Cape Town - About 20 porcupine traps have been found in the Cape Metropole as the demand for porcupine meat grows among traditional healers.
Traditional healer Fanoyi Dlamini, of the Traditional Healers Association of South Africa, said porcupine meat was in great demand because of its healing properties.
He said the use of porcupine meat has been a common practice in the Western Cape for many years.
“We use the porcupine meat for muti purposes. We mix it together with our herbs and then burn it. It heals really well and is very expensive to buy. We have been using it for years, it is not illegal,” said Dlamini
In addition, the demand for porcupine quills has also become a concern as the value per quill increases.
A recent report, compiled by Nick Chevallier and Belinda Ashton, about the porcupine quill trade in South Africa showed that in traditional African medicine the internal organs of the porcupine were burned, then mixed with herbs and crushed tree bark. This served as a remedy to enhance people’s strength and protect them from danger.
The SPCA’s wildlife supervisor, Megan Reid, expressed concerns about the growing numbers of porcupines being targeted in the area.
“The porcupines are basically poached for their meat. We usually come across around 20 mesh traps a year, which can be found in any high density bush areas.
“Constantia has been one of our growing concerns. As many as seven traps have been spotted there lately. It is illegal and anyone caught could be charged. It is sad to see this happening to our wildlife.”
Reid said that during the recent fires at Cape Point a porcupine carcass was found in a mesh man-made trap.
Tarcia Hendriks, from South African National Parks, said there has been a significant decrease in porcupine poaching.
“There has actually been a decrease in the amount of porcupine poaching over the past few months.”