For the first time, gorillas have been seen freeing each other from traps set by hunters. People from the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda watched as two young gorillas worked to free one of their family from a snare.
National Geographic reports:
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.
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.Veronic Vecellio, the program director at the center, says the youngsters freed their mate so quickly that she suspects this wasn’t the first time they’ve done this. “They were very confident,” she said. “They saw what they had to do, they did it, and then they left.”
Veterinarian Mike Cranfield, executive director of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, thinks 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. (In fact, they have a “prime directive” hands-off policy, which would prohibit them from actively teaching the gorillas.)
The whole story is here.