As I type this, my palms are growing sweaty and I'm starting to feel nauseous.
Why? Because snuffling around outside my front door is an animal that poses a very serious threat to my well-being.
A lion? Elephant? Burglar?
No. It's a porcupine.
Now you think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not.
Alright, I admit that southern African porcupines (Hystrix africaeaustralis) are not life-threatening. They're big (about waist-high when they've erected their quills) and generally fearless, and they suddenly charge backwards at you which is hugely disconcerting. But this is not the problem. I can cope with quills.
One of three porcupines that visit my compost heap nightly.
The problem is noise. My house is located directly across the river (about 200m away) from a commercial lodge, and one of the conditions of my living here is that I remain inconspicuous and make no noise.
Well, it all started harmlessly enough, with me tossing my household scraps onto the compost heap at night for the porcupines to munch. If the porcupines arrived before I'd put the scraps out (and I waited until nightfall to avoid attracting baboons), they'd trundle up to the house, making the dogs bark. Concerned about the noise, I'd dash out with the scraps, drawing the porcupines away and restoring peace.