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Nature & Environment

Young gorillas are destroying poacher snares

By T.K. Randall
August 21, 2016 · Comment icon 34 comments

Silverback gorillas have started to actively destroy poacher traps. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.6 Kabir
Some of Rwanda's mountain gorillas have taken a hands-on approach to tackling the threat of snares.
Conservationists have reported that, for the first time ever, young silverback gorillas have been observed actively seeking out and destroying snare traps left in the forest by poachers.

Thousands of rope-and-branch snares are set up across Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park on a regular basis and conservationists spend a lot of time attempting to locate and disarm them.

Now though it seems as though even the gorillas themselves are getting in on the act.
"This is absolutely the first time that we've seen juveniles doing that... I don't know of any other reports in the world of juveniles destroying snares," said gorilla program co-ordinator Veronica Vecellio at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund's Karisoke Research Center.

"We are the largest database and observer of wild gorillas... so I would be very surprised if somebody else has seen that."

Not only does this behavior help to demonstrate the level of intelligence exhibited by the gorillas but it could also mean that their young will be less likely to become trapped in a snare in the future.

"They were very confident," said Vecellio. "They saw what they had to do, they did it, then they left."

Source: National Geographic | Comments (34)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #25 Posted by qxcontinuum 8 years ago
it is time to hate China and their God less anti nature behaviours !
Comment icon #26 Posted by cyclopes500 8 years ago
I have an idea. 1 find a nice smelling young female gorilla in season that knows deaf and dumb sign language. 2 once she's settled in use her to explain to
Comment icon #27 Posted by cyclopes500 8 years ago
her wild cousins how to make traps for poachers. 3 once caught the gorillas could hand them in to the rangers on a food reward basis, or more likely how to eat one properly. Say with a few tools they might find useful and a recipe involving jungle plants and insects for example.
Comment icon #28 Posted by MJNYC 8 years ago
Somehow, I can't imagine that any animal can be as cruel as a human can be.  In fact, I'm positive that they aren't. Playing with their food for a few minutes, is nothing near to torturing someone mentally and physically for years. It's like comparing apples to silver.
Comment icon #29 Posted by Myles 8 years ago
I cannot imagine any animal being as compassionate as humans either. 
Comment icon #30 Posted by Dark_Grey 8 years ago
If you're just comparing the most cruel acts then of course humans win every time - animals lack the third thought process and imagination necessary to concoct cruel tortures. The question then becomes, if they DID have the imagination and self-awareness, would they choose to be cruel? I say yes - absolutely. Some species, like chimps, would revel in it. Have you ever seen chimps chase, capture and eat another monkey? I hope you never do. Here's what else humans have going for them: empathy. Even though we can be incredibly cruel, we can also transcend our basic survival needs and care for cre... [More]
Comment icon #31 Posted by MJNYC 8 years ago
Well, you are assuming incorrectly that animals do not have empathy and that has been proven to not be true. Many instances of animals not leaving the one they love, whether it be another dog, human, bird, cat. monkey, etc.  All recorded so there's no doubt that it happens. And, if animals could think about what or how they were eating, I think they would be more likely to choose to not eat living beings. I have a cat now that doesn't kill anything.  She happened upon a large beetle one day and I saw her gently taping it.  The bug didn't even move, that's how gentle she was.  She's like th... [More]
Comment icon #32 Posted by Myles 8 years ago
They may be staying because it is what they know.   I agree that some animals may feel a slight degree of empathy.   I think your cat knows that it does not need to hunt and isn't in an environment to kill things.    My indoor cat is like that inside, but when it gets out, it kills chipmunks and leaves a headless body at my door.    
Comment icon #33 Posted by MJNYC 8 years ago
And that means that your cat doesn't feel empathy for its food.  So? Animals feel empathy and it's not a "slight degree". We can agree to disagree.
Comment icon #34 Posted by oldrover 8 years ago
Apparently, and I don't remember where I heard this, if you want to discourage these gruesome little presents. What you need to do is make a big fuss of your cat next time it does this. Then, again 'apparently', they think they've made their point and stop. I have no idea if that's true.  

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