Gorillas and chimps and orangutans are pretty damn smart. Not as smart as the likes of you or I, but they’re pretty damn smart. Smart enough, that a group of gorillas in Rwanda have learned to identify and spot poacher traps so they can disarm them.
After one of their companions was ensnared by a hunter’s trap in Rwanda, it seems that young endangered gorillas are getting the last laugh. Or, uh, last terrifying jungle scream. Conservationists say a trio of juveniles in Rwanda has successfully learned how to find and dismantle other traps left by the poachers.
The endangered great apes live in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, where poachers occasionally set snare traps intended to capture antelope and other small game. According to National Geographic, the traps aren’t powerful enough to harm adult gorillas, but baby gorillas are sometimes injured or killed. Last week, a female infant died after being caught in such a trap.
The traps are illegal, as they threatened the local mountain gorillas, which are already on the brink of extinction. And so, every day, human trackers comb the park for snares set by illegal poachers, dismantling them as they come across them. But earlier this week, a funny thing happened on the way to the snare.
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.
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