Poachers had set up traps in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park in 2012. Two gorillas decided to remove them and clear their path.
Sadly it resulted in the passing of one of the gorillas. Days after the incident something remarkable happened. Two four-year-old gorillas worked together and went on to dismantle similar snares within the area.
Veronica Vecellio from Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda talked to National Geographic. She says, “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.” She goes on to say, “We are the largest database and observer of wild gorillas … so I would be very surprised if somebody else has seen that.”
Local bush meat hunters usually set up these to catch antelopes and other animals. Nonetheless, gorillas do get caught in the traps at times.
If an animal is in the vicinity and is crossing the trap they are likely to get stuck until the poachers come along. Adult gorillas are too large for the traps. Thus, there is a chance that they might not die from being struck. Nonetheless, they can die from the injuries they sustain when trying to escape. These may include serious cuts or dislocation of bones.
Veronica alongside her team has been observing the park for traps daily and dismantling them.
The situation in 2012 was a little different. A clan of gorillas was residing near one of the traps. The research center did send some staff to dismantle the trap. However, the clan leader warned them to not come close. After that two gorillas stepped forward and picked the trap apart. Following this, they went on to dismantle another one too.
As a result, their knowledge about the traps is nothing short of impressive. Vecellio hopes that the juvenile gorillas keep passing on the knowledge to the rest.
When asked whether they can step in the field and teach the gorillas this. Veronica did not deem this to be a smart idea as it would interfere with their natural behavior.
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