June 16th, 2008
03:18 PM ET

The delicate taste of porcupine

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/16/art.philsporcupine.jpg]

Phil Littleton
Senior Photojournalist

…Zoonotics…This is a word I have learnt. (It is about the study of “nunus” found in animals). All I know about it is that there are Field Virologists who go out into the jungles to find the Zoonotics. Sound simple – not really.

To film this you have to wander through the rolling hills of Cameroon, with the indigenous hunters, looking for little furry animals—which are trapped and killed.

Right…The rolling hills are covered in thick jungle, with all sorts of nasty vegetation, sometimes so thick, getting my large pink body through into the bush, is akin to thumbing a marshmallow through a keyhole.

On the day (yes, eight hours) I went in we did not see one living animal, except a porcupine, but alas a sharp blow to the head with a machete ended that as it dangled in the hunters snare, he did however have nine hungry mouths to feed back in the village. The blood I’d collected and analyzed—finding out what dark secrets await us.

We have moved on to the Democratic Republic of Congo, in search of Monkey pox, yes Monkey pox and after a double bounce landing coming into Kinshasha and looking at the common garden variety of padlock on the wing fuel tank of a small aircraft—who knows what lies install for us in Lodja—buried deep in the Congolese forests.

I do not have a picture of a scratched and bloody head to share (I tend to try and not walk into things) but here is a picture of a hungry mouth awaiting the delicate taste of porcupine.

I hope to speak again soon

As always

Filed under: Phil Littleton • Planet in Peril
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Julie San Diego, CA

    A quick check of the Road Kill Cafe ("You kill it, we grill it") menu on their website shows Pavement Possum and a nice Squirrel appetizer, but nothing for porcupine...I'll have to check their cookbook...

    Yes. They have a cookbook.

    You guys look more relaxed than I've seen you in ages. You should stay in Africa for awhile.

    Excellent Reporter's Notebook the other night. Thanks for showing us news can become art. Kind of nice sitting in the rain, isn't it, Anderson?

    Don't hurry home.

    June 17, 2008 at 10:13 am |
  2. Joseph

    We Americans are so foolish to believe the negative portrayal of a beautiful continent like Africa from the western media. These guys go to the most underdeveloped places in Africa and then stereotype an entire race with their negative images. This is a shame!!! People in Africa go to work, schools, hospitals, drive beautiful cars etc. People eat western foods in Africa, play video games and watch televisions. Africa is gradually being developed economically and materially. On the other hand, America is also full of Aids, STDS, poverty, racism, illiteracy etc. No where is perfect. I routinely visit Africa and to see it being portray in such a negative faction, is racism. I am an American and I am sad

    June 17, 2008 at 3:11 am |
  3. Joseph

    hello everyone. I am a daily viewer of AC 360 and love his program very much. However, I am very dissappointed in how Anderson and other western politicians like to portray Africa. Africa is not a country but a continent. Africa is not full of diseases, forests, gorillas etc. Anderson recently said that HIVs and Aids originated from Africa. That is a flat lie from the western media. The idea of Aids originating from Africa is not true but a scenario among many. Check for the origin of Aids at WiKipedia and you will be educated. I am an American who goes to Africa routinely and it is a naturally beautiful place. People go to work there, they go to school, church, ride good cars and have paved roads. The mainstream media here in the west likes to portray Africans in demeaning and inhumane ways to stop westerners from investing in Africa. Even google is not the best area to see pictures of Africa. As Americans, we ought to search for our own information instead of relying on the media. Africa is a vibrant place. There are many positive developments going on in Africa that the western media refused to report. This is just a shame!!! Treat others like humans.

    June 17, 2008 at 3:10 am |
  4. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Phil,
    Porcupine? Well, a feast is a feast to the eye of the beholder. Not my first choice on the menu, but..I suppose a good hollandaise sauce could mask just about anything!

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    June 16, 2008 at 10:43 pm |
  5. Annie Kate

    Hi Phil,

    I can't even imagine eating porcupine – much less imagine it as one of the staples of people's diet. My kids think they are roughing it when they can't have pizza every now. Your posts are great in reminding us that so many people in other parts of the world have to eat porcupine and are grateful to get it. I'm looking forward to more of your posts and to seeing some of the footage you have taken.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 16, 2008 at 9:41 pm |
  6. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    And to think I was grumbling a few hours ago about the grocery store not having fresh ground round with a lower fat content than 85/15 and the McDonald's Drive-Thru taking longer than normal. This post proved to be my attitude of gratitude adjustment changer. The images so far, the stories told, it's unreal to fathom sometimes. The work you are sharing is important in helping us remember how interconnected we all really are and that under different circumstances that McDonald's trip could have been an eight-hour trek in jungles and that ground round could have been a porcupine instead or worse complete with it's own set of diseases that could cross over and make us really ill.

    June 16, 2008 at 7:51 pm |
  7. Genevieve M, TX

    Did you taste the porcupine? Does it "taste like chicken"?

    June 16, 2008 at 7:49 pm |
  8. philippa, Amarillo,Tx

    How will anderson cooper and his crew prevent these diseases from coming out .

    June 16, 2008 at 7:43 pm |
  9. Kathy, Chicago

    Hmm, I'm holding out for the chicken. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us. You are all at a place that most of us will never visit. It is great to see it through your eyes! Be careful!

    June 16, 2008 at 7:06 pm |
  10. pati mc., camp hill, pa


    Well Philip...... I was hungry. Maybe you have stumbled onto another great service to provide us with – portion control! (Or not eating at all.) Yuck. There is no way I am trying porcupine. Sorry. Have you tasted it? If so, you are one brave dude. Either that or very hungry.

    Please stay safe you guys and know that we are all anxiously awaiting your hardwon reports and vids. Please remember to duck, we do not need a camerman with no noggin!

    Thanks for blogging, love reading about all of your adventures.

    Be well.

    June 16, 2008 at 7:01 pm |
  11. deborah, OH

    Are you & Anderson wearing lots of sunscreen?

    Thank you for another insightful blog–that the porcupine will serve 9 hungry people makes one appreciate what they have & where they live. That the hunters had to go 8 hrs. to find it, is rather sad.

    Thanks to you, Anderson, Dr. Sanjay, & all the rest for bringing this info to us, & better informing us.

    Again, be safe, all of you. See you tonight.

    June 16, 2008 at 4:44 pm |
  12. Jo Ann

    Dear Phil,

    I can’t really say that I found your post today an “enjoyable read,” but I do understand its purpose. It is so difficult and sad to believe that in our “fast food” twenty-first century there are still people who must hunt down their food just to survive.

    I did, however, appreciate the comparison of your “large pink body” to a marshmallow! I hope that all of you “pink guys,” especially Anderson, are wearing your sunscreen!

    I look forward to tonight’s report, although I hope that you will spare us the macheted porcupine shot. It is times like this that I can appreciate the luxury of being a vegetarian.

    Jo Ann
    North Royalton, Ohio

    June 16, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  13. Cindy

    Sounds like great fun to me! LOL I would have been extremely mad after going through all of that 8 hour trek to find nothing but one porcupine! But at least they got something to eat huh? Hopefully your next adventure will turn up more animals and a lot more excitement! LOL

    Thanks for the updates! Stay safe!!


    June 16, 2008 at 3:25 pm |