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Astonishing pictures of the young gorillas who worked together to
dismantle the poachers' trap that killed their friends
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
'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
The two young gorillas in Rwanda who were spotted taking apart poachers
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
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.'
the snare busting team must have dismantled other traps.
very confident,' she said. "They saw what they had to do, they did it, and
then they left.
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
full story, photos, comments:
From: Danielle Radin, The
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.
"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
"There are socially provided elements in the environment to help the young
individual to be facilitated to perform the right actions and to practice
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