Young Gorillas Destroy Poachers' Traps
Young mountain gorillas in Rwanda – home to one third of the world’s remaining population of the species – have been recently spotted destroying snares set by local poachers.
The traps set by bush-meat hunters are set for antelope and other animals, but sometimes capture the gorillas. Adults are generally strong enough to free themselves. Youngsters aren’t always so lucky. The reserve trackers usually destroy the traps, and gorillas are very likely to have learned how to destroy them by watching the trackers in Volcanoes National Park in North West Rwanda.
Veronica Vecellio, program director of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, said: “We knew that gorillas do this, but all of the reported cases in the past were carried out by adult gorillas, mostly silverbacks [alpha males in gorilla groups].”
In July, however, two juveniles and one blackback - aged 8–12 years - worked together to deactivate two snares and the way they did it demonstrated an “impressive cognitive skill,” said Veronica.
Poachers’ snares pose one of the biggest threats to mountain gorilla populations, often maiming and killing the animals. But a bigger drive towards conservation and international awareness has seen gorilla numbers grow by 17% over the last 15 years, said a spokesperson for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. There is now a total population of 800 in existence.
“Our battle to detect and destroy snares from the park is far from over. But today we can proudly confirm that gorillas are doing their part too,” said the spokesperson.