Gorilla Youngsters Outsmart Poachers

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Gorilla Youngsters Outsmart Poachers

Post by Alpha Female » Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:07 pm

I thought this was a pretty cool article, since this is the first I've heard of any sort of animal being able to dismantle a trap.
Just days after a poacher's snare had killed one of their own, two young mountain gorillas worked together Tuesday to find and destroy traps in their Rwandan forest home, according to conservationists on the scene.
"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 Veronica Vecellio, gorilla program coordinator at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund's Karisoke Research Center, located in the reserve where the event took place.

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

Adults are generally strong enough to free themselves. Youngsters aren't always so lucky.

Just last week an ensnared infant named Ngwino, found too late by workers from Karisoke, 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 hunters, Vecellio said, seem to have no interest in the gorillas. Even small apes, which would be relatively easy to carry away for sale, are left to die.

All-Natural Arsenal

Poachers build the snares by tying a noose to a branch or a bamboo stalk, Vecellio explained.

Using the rope, they pull the branch downward, bending it. They then use a bent stick or rock to hold the noose to the ground, keeping the branch tense. A sprinkling of vegetation camouflages the noose.

When an animal budges the stick or rock, the branch springs upward, closing the noose around the prey. If the creature is light enough, it will actually be hoisted into the air.

Rwema and Dukore Save the Day

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."

On Tuesday tracker John Ndayambaje spotted a trap very close to the Kuryama gorilla clan. He moved in to deactivate the snare, but a silverback named Vubu grunted, cautioning Ndayambaje to stay away, Vecellio said.

Suddenly two juveniles—Rwema, a male; and Dukore, a female; both about four years old—ran toward the trap.

As Ndayambaje and a few tourists watched, Rwema jumped on the bent tree branch and broke it, while Dukore freed the noose.

The pair then spied another snare nearby—one the tracker himself had missed—and raced for it. Joined by a third gorilla, a teenager named Tetero, Rwema and Dukore destroyed that trap as well.

Gorilla Tactics

The speed with which everything happened makes Vecellio, the gorilla program coordinator, think this wasn't the first time the young gorillas had outsmarted trappers.

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

Silverbacks in the Kuryama group have occasionally been caught in the snares, so Vecellio thinks the juveniles would have known the traps are dangerous.

"That's why they destroyed them," Vecellio said.

"Quite Ingenious"

Despite the unprecedented nature of the event, Vecellio said she wasn't surprised by the reports. "But," she said, "I'm always amazed and very proud when we can confirm that they are smart."

Veterinarian Mike Cranfield, executive director of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, also said he wasn't shocked by the news.

"Chimpanzees are always quoted as being the tool users, but I think, when the situation provides itself, gorillas are quite ingenious," he said.

Cranfield speculated that the gorillas may have learned how to destroy traps by watching the Karisoke center's trackers.

"If we could get more of them doing it, it would be great," he joked.

Karisoke's Vecellio, though, said actively instructing the apes would be against the center's ethos.

"No we can't teach them," she said. "We try as much as we can to not interfere with the gorillas. We don't want to affect their natural behavior."
Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... ce-fossey/

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Re: Gorilla Youngsters Outsmart Poachers

Post by Edme1 » Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:28 am

That is very good to see! It's amazing that animals such as these are smart enough to locate and safely dismantle traps. It also shows that they are adapting to how poachers are endangering them, giving them a better chance of survival. Very interesting article; thanks!
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Re: Gorilla Youngsters Outsmart Poachers

Post by -wolfbeat- » Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:24 pm

wow very interesting!!! they have a very smart brain just like us!!!! hope they soon adapt to notice and deactivate pit-fall-traps(the one with sharp stone at the end).
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Re: Gorilla Youngsters Outsmart Poachers

Post by BlackWarrior » Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:41 am

This is quite an interesting article flower! Thanks for sharing!
It always amazes me to hear things like this. Yet, i'm not surprised by the gorillas' genius tactics to dismantle these traps. Primates are obviously very smart and intelligent, but this proves to show how they can learn and easily adapt. Very neat! I'd love to have read more!
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Re: Gorilla Youngsters Outsmart Poachers

Post by Silverfang88 » Sat May 11, 2013 8:08 pm

I hate poachers...
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Re: Gorilla Youngsters Outsmart Poachers

Post by Sparkfall » Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:57 am

  • This is very exciting! This goes to show that animals have and can outsmart poachers, ultimately giving them a better chance at survival.

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