Smart Mountain Gorillas Have Learned How to Dismantle Poachers’ Traps

Smart Mountain Gorillas Have Learned How to Dismantle Poachers’ Traps

Researchers working in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park in 2012 witnessed just how intelligent mountain gorillas are when they observed them dismantling traps laid by poachers.

Only days after a young gorilla died after being caught in one of these snares, two four-year-old gorillas were filmed working together to disassemble similar traps.

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

Rangers patrol the forest daily, removing snares in continued efforts to protect the critically endangered mountain gorillas. It was on a routine patrol in 2012 that tracker John Ndayambaje saw two juvenile gorillas: a male named Dukore and a female named Rwema, rapidly destroy two traps.

“Young Dukore and Rwema, as well as Tetero with a black back, ran to the trap and destroyed together the branches used to hold the rope,” said Vecillio. “They saw another trap nearby and, as quickly as before, they destroyed the second branch and pulled the rope to the ground. They were very confident. They saw what they had to do, they did it, and then they left.”

Snares are a common occurrence in the national park, home of the mountain gorillas, and although they are intended to catch antelope and smaller species, they can also ensnare the great apes. Adult gorillas can generally free themselves, but a younger animal may not be so lucky, as seen in the case of an infant named Ngwino who died from injuries after being caught in such a snare – she had dislocated her shoulder trying to escape and developed gangrene from open wounds where the rope cut into her leg.

The gorillas observed on this occasion are a subspecies of the eastern gorilla: Gorilla beringei beringei. There are only an estimated 680 mountain gorillas left in the wild, in two separate small populations, so every life is precious.

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  1. Shaun Fletcher

    Maybe they will learn to lie in wait for the poachers and use the snares to strangle them with, then hang them from trees as a warning to other would be poachers..

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  2. Lynn

    What do sub humans get out of killing Gorillas?? These beautiful animals should be left to live their lives in freedom. Obviously they seem more intelligent than us.

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  3. Kimberly A Hagerty

    This is so sad to have a lost a beautiful INNOCENT young gorilla. Why do these morons think it’s fun to kill ANIMALS. Karma is a bitch.

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  4. Ravinder Singh

    Great. I am glad they have beaten brainless humans in their own game. Three cheers for them.

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  5. TJ Wilson

    So glad, those poachers shouldn’t be killing them, anyway! Keep it up, gorillas!

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  6. Sheila T.

    This is just another fine example as to how intelligent these animals are. I just wish these animals would find a way to put those poachers into their own traps so that these fools can feel how painful it is to be ensnared. I am very proud of the brilliance and smarts these animals have exhibited and I pray for their safety and the safety of the rangers who patrol the forests.

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  7. Melita Spackman

    This has made me so happy. Go you precious gorillas suck shit sub humans who laid these vile traps.

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  8. Leanne

    This story had dond my heart the world of good. Such smart gorillas. Too bad poachers aren’t caught and killed in these insidious traps.

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  9. Allison T Anderson

    This story makes my heart happy!

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  10. Robyn KNORR

    Very smart creatures and so thankful that they are. These poachers never pay the price they should for their dastardly deeds. And yes, let’s hope they can’t read!

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  11. Judy

    Hoorah for the intelligent gorillas. The worst problem with this publicity is that the poachers will now invent more insidious traps than before. God help the poor animals.

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  12. B. Maurene White

    Let’s just hope and pray the consummate creeps of poachers don’t think of even more vicious traps.

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  13. Marla

    To bad we cannot set traps for the poachers?

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    • B. Maurene white

      I wish the mountain gorillas could telegraph their brilliance to Canadian wolves!

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    • B. Maurene White

      Great idea! Maybe the forest rangers could speak to the gorillas and suggest something.

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  14. Anne kuzel

    That is very cool, just proves again how animals are smart, and work together. Hope they keep it up and teach others. I’m sorry to hear about the baby one wasn’t so lucky.

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  15. Ellen

    How great!! Rise of the planet of the Apes!!!!

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  16. Bev

    WOW! I wish all the animals could disable their poachers traps! How absolutely amazing and smart they are! Smarter than some humans. Would love to see the look on the poachers’ faces when they see their traps destroyed…

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  17. Elizabeth Conlan

    That is so amazing, lets hope they train other gorillas.

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  18. Juliette


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