The incredible story of Petunia the porcupine

When our Wildlife Emergency Response Unit is called to attend a rescue, the team may expect to find one of a host of different animals in distress: baboons, vervets, monitor lizards, birds, even elephants. However, it’s not every day that a porcupine is found ensnared in a trap in the centre of Lilongwe — but that is exactly what our rescue team responded to last month.

The porcupine, which we named Petunia, was caught in a snare in the wilderness that occupies the centre of Malawi’s capital. The snare had caused severe injuries to Petunia’s stomach and sides, and left her unable to move, stuck on a steep uphill slope.

Not only that, but it is suspected that the poachers who illegally set this cruel device returned to the trap and tried to kill Petunia by bludgeoning her over the head. This left her with a fractured skull and an abscess near her brain.

Luckily, the poachers who tried to catch and kill this innocent animal were later arrested, and our Wildlife Emergency Response Unit were able to rescue Petunia and bring her to the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre to be assessed.

The early signs weren’t good for Petunia. She was suffering from deep wounds caused by the snare and her fractured skull and abscess were potentially life-threatening if not treated quickly.

But our expert team of vets and animal rehab specialists refused to give up on Petunia, and began a programme of intensive care for her.

Petunia’s injuries required her to be sedated twice a week for nearly two months and she underwent life-saving surgery to remove the piece of fractured skull and manage the abscess on her brain.

Incredibly, against all the odds, Petunia the porcupine pulled through and, thanks to the team of the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, now has a second shot at life.

Just yesterday, after coming so close to becoming the latest victim of poaching, we released Petunia back into the wild of Malawi where she belongs.

Good luck, Petunia!