I love animals so I love to post stories and news about them. I hope you all enjoy this story.

"Very confident" four-year-olds outsmart hunters and protect their clan.

Wild gorillas Rwema and Dukore destroy a primitive snare in Rwanda earlier this week.

Photograph courtesy Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Ker Than

for National Geographic News

Published July 19, 2012

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.

"This is absolutely the first time that we've vseen 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, located in the reserve where the event took place.

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

(Also see "Dian Fossey's Gorillas Exhumed for Investigation.")

Bush-meat hunters set thousands of rope-and-branch snares in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, where the mountain gorillas live. The traps are intended for antelope and other species but sometimes capture the apes.

Adults are generally strong enough to free themselves. Youngsters aren't always so lucky.

Just last week an ensnared infant named Ngwino, found too late by workers from Karisoke, died of snare-related wounds. Her shoulder had been dislocated during escape attempts, and gangrene had set in after the ropes cut deep into her leg.

The hunters, Vecellio said, seem to have no interest in the gorillas. Even small apes, which would be relatively easy to carry away for sale, are left to die.

(Related pictures: "Baby Gorilla Rescued in Armed Sting Operation.")

Rube Goldberg, Minus the Complexity

Poachers build the snares by tying a noose to a branch or a bamboo stalk, Vecellio explained.

Using the rope, they pull the branch downward, bending it. They then use a bent stick or rock to hold the noose to the ground, keeping the branch tense. A sprinkling of vegetation camouflages the noose.

When an animal budges the stick or rock, the branch springs upward, closing the noose around the prey. If the creature is light enough, it will actually be hoisted into the air.

(See National Geographic magazine mountain gorilla pictures.)

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for reading Jonathan. It's like "Planet if the Apes". The gorillas are fighting back.

And the idiot Christians would have us to believe these aren't 'sentient' beings! Thanks Steph that was beautiful!

More power to the gorillas.

I can practically har those poachers now saying "And we would've gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling apes!"  Way to go, apes!

Just like in Scooby Doo and those meddling kids!

I've been told by African people that bushmeat is very good to eat and is more nutritious than meat produced agriculturally or in factory farms. It gets a good price so is not just eaten for subsistence by the poorest people. I can even buy dried bushmeat in some pubs in London. The type of meat is not specified on the pack only the range of animals it can include. Apparently the snack is a good accompaniment to a pint of beer.

African primate meat is sought by people prepared to pay for it and this causes the deadly trade to continue. Endangered species deserve the best protection that governments and charities can give otherwise the possibility of extinction becomes more probable.

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