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Gorillas worked together to dismantle the poachers' trap that killed their friends


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Astonishing pictures of the young gorillas who worked together to dismantle the poachers' trap that killed their friends

By Mark Prigg
19 July 2012

Just days after a poacher's snare had killed one of their own, two young mountain gorillas have been spotted working together to take apart poachers traps.

Staff at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund were stunned when they spotted the plucky young duo, called Dukore and Rwema, destroying a trap in their forest home.

'Today our field staff observed several young gorillas from Kuryama's group destroying snares!' Veronica Vecellio, gorilla program coordinator at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund's Karisoke Research Center, which is in the reserve where the event took place, blogged.

The astonishing moment when two young mountain gorillas were spotted working together to find and destroy traps in their Rwandan forest home.
'John Ndayambaje, our field data coordinator, reported that he saw one snare very close to the group; since the gorillas were moving in that direction, he decided to deactivate it.

'Silverback Vuba pig-grunted at him (a vocalization of warning) and at the same time juveniles Dukore and Rwema together with blackback Tetero ran toward the snare and together pulled the branch used to hold the rope.

'They saw another snare nearby and as quickly as before they destroyed the second branch and pulled the rope out of the ground.'

The pair were able to rip the snare apart without harming themselves.
Vecellio said the behaviour was unheard of.

'This is absolutely the first time that we've seen juveniles doing that,' she told National Geographic.

'I don't know of any other reports in the world of juveniles destroying snares.

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

''Today we can proudly confirm that gorillas are doing their part too!'

Staff at the park were still reeling from the death last week of a young gorilla called Ngwino who was caught in a snare.

The young animal was found too late by workers from Karisoke, and died of snare-related wounds.

Her shoulder had been dislocated during escape attempts, and gangrene had set in after the ropes cut deep into her leg.

The two young gorillas in Rwanda who were spotted taking apart poachers traps

Bush-meat hunters set thousands of rope-and-branch snares in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, where the mountain gorillas live.

The traps are intended for antelope and other species but sometimes capture the apes.

Poachers build the snares by tying a noose to a branch or a bamboo stalk, Vicellio said

The gorillas were spotted near the Karisoke Research Center, located in the reserve where the event took place.

Every day trackers from the Karisoke center comb the forest for snares, dismantling them to protect the endangered mountain gorillas, which the International Fund for Nature (IUCN) says face 'a very high risk of extinction in the wild.'

She believes the snare busting team must have dismantled other traps.

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

'Quite Ingenious'

A young gorilla at Ape Action Africa, based at the Mefou Primate Park near Yaounde, Cameroon. It homes orphaned primates, many of whose family are caught in snare traps. Luci is another Gorilla baby at the park. She has a full time Cameroonian carer, Jeanne who acts like a surrogate mother.

Young gorillas caught dismantling poachers's snares

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From: Danielle Radin, The Ecologist, More from this Affiliate
Published June 24, 2014 08:00 AM

In the wild, gorillas are turning into primitive engineers as the newest field findings show that some of these large primates have taught themselves how to dismantle poaching traps in Africa.

"It's just amazing", says Dr. Patricia Wright, a Primatologist at Stony Brook University in New York with over 27 years anthropological experience.

"One of the most extraordinary things that has just happened is that very young gorillas, that are just four years old, have started to take apart traps and snares so that poachers can't catch gorillas."

In Rwanda, four young gorillas were seen disabling a poachers' snare intended to kill gorillas and other animals. These gorillas sprung into action after the same snare killed an elderly gorilla.

Cognition, and empathy

Adult gorillas have been seen destroying snares and poaching traps in the past, but scientists have never seen this kind of activity in gorillas at such a young age. This sighting suggests not only unexpected cognitive skill but also a level of empathy for other animals.

While the gorillas could choose to simply avoid the snare grounds, they instead decide to work together to disable them so that other gorillas and animals are not hurt and killed.

Within the world of primatologists and researchers, primate empathy has been a matter of discussion for years. These new findings suggest a level of empathy and social welfare amongst primates never before studied.

The young gorillas dismantling the snares will most likely teach their offspring how to destroy traps as well. Primates, such as gorillas and chimpanzees, are known for teaching their young how to use different tools.

Chimpanzee altruists

"Young monkeys learn to use stones as tools to crack open the nuts they want to eat, which is something that the adults in their groups do", says Dorothy Fragaszy, Professor of Psychology at the University of Georgia and director of the Primate Behavior Laboratory.

"Social context helps the young monkeys to learn skills through the ways that others engineer the environment so that the young monkeys are able to learn.
"There are socially provided elements in the environment to help the young individual to be facilitated to perform the right actions and to practice this skill."
Continue reading at ENN affiliate, The Ecologist.

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