Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park, gorillas have been seen tracking downs and destroying traps left by poachers. This is believed to be a result of an infant gorilla that was part of the band being killed by one of the traps.
Researchers from the Karisoke Research Centre, have never seen these mountain gorillas make plans and cooperate in this way before.
“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,” Veronica Vecellio, a representative from Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s Karisoke Research Centre in Rwanda said to National Geographic. “We are the largest database and observer of wild gorillas … so I would be very surprised if somebody else has seen that.”
Bush hunters place thousand of this kind of trap in an attempt to catch food sources such as antelope. Sadly mountain gorillas amongst other animals are occasionally become caught in these traps. Adult gorillas are fully capable of freeing themselves from these snare traps unfortunately it’s the younger gorillas that suffer as they are normally not strong enough to free themselves and are left to die.
In 1967, primatologist Dian Fossey arrived at the park to conduct a study on the endangered gorilla species. She discovered an alarming fact, just 240 mountain gorillas were living in the park. This was mainly due to habitat loss and human disease, due to this the gorilla’s existence at the park was under threat.
and human disease, due to this the gorilla’s existence at the park was under threat.
“They are literally stuck on top of these volcanoes surrounded by a sea of people,” Tara Stoinski the president and CEO of Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. stated,” It’s one of the highest human population densities in Africa, so there’s a lot of pressure on the forest and the area that they live.”
Nearly 50 years later, conservation efforts have doubled the gorilla population at the park. However, despite the park’s success, there are just 880 left on the planet. According to the International Fund for Nature (IUCN) the gorillas face “a very high risk of extinction in the wild.”
These two juvenile gorillas dismantled the snares at Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. this happened shortly after a tracker spotted the trap in close proximity to the Kuryama gorilla band. The gorillas named Rwema, the male and Dukore, the female encouraged the ranger to step back and then ran in the direction of the trap.
These traps are created by noose being tied to a bamboo stalk. This is then bent down to the ground. Another stick or occasionally a rock is then placed on the trap to weight it down. Vegetation is then used to camouflage it.
When the stick or rock becomes knocked the branch swings violently upwards. This is how the prey becomes trapped inside the noose.
Rwema, the male gorilla disabled the trap by jumping on a bent tree branch to break it, while Dukore, the female gorilla freed the noose.
The tracker and a group of tourist were left astonished when Rwema and Dukore were joined by another gorilla. This one had also spotted a snare and ran to destroy it.
Judging by the speed and how confidently these gorillas destroyed these traps, the researchers think it’s more than likely they have done this before.
“They were very confident,” she said. “They saw what they had to do, they did it, and then they left.”
“Chimpanzees are always quoted as being the tool users, but I think, when the situation provides itself, gorillas are quite ingenious,” Veterinarian Mike Cranfield stated. Mike Cranfield is the executive director of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project.
Researchers believe these gorillas learnt the technique to destroying these traps by watching the trackers from the Karisoke center. More information about Volcanoes National Park and their conservation work can be found here.
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