For the first time ever, young gorillas are seen dismantling poacher traps in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
According to National Geographic, 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. Gorilla program coordinator at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s Karisoke Research Center said “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. We are the largest database and observer of wild gorillas … so I would be very surprised if somebody else has seen that.”
Hunters for meat set thousands of rope-and-branch snares in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. The traps are intended for antelope and other species but also have the unfortunate ability to capture the apes. While the older and stronger apes can usually set themselves free, some of the younger apes end up killed because of these traps. A week prior, an ensnared infant named Ngwino was found too late by workers from Karisoke as she died of snare-related wounds. Her shoulder was dislocated after escape attempts, and gangrene had infected her after deep cuts from the rope cut into her leg.
The snares are built by tying a noose to a branch or a bamboo stalk. The rope is used to pull the branch downward, where they then use a bent stick or rock to hold the noose to the ground. When an animal approaches the snare, the branch springs upward, closing the noose around the prey.
John Ndayambaje spotted a trap very close to the Kuryama gorilla clan on Tuesday and moved in to deactivate the snare, however, a silverback named Vubu grunted, cautioning Ndayambaje to stay away. Then the experience of a lifetime occurred when two juvenile gorillas, Rwema, a male; and Dukore, a female; both around the age of four years old, ran toward the trap. Rwema then jumped on the bent tree branch and broke it, while Dukore freed the noose. That is not all however, as the pair spotted another snare nearby, where they were joined by a third gorilla and destroyed that trap as well.
First Time Ever: Young Gorillas are Seen Dismantling Poacher Traps.