On July 17, 2012 several young mountain gorillas did an extraordinary thing: They dismantled a poacher’s snare.
John Ndayambaje, a field data coordinator for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund was working in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda near a group of mountain gorillas known as Kuryama’s group, when he noticed a snare. Snares are illegal (but ubiquitous) in the region and are dangerous, especially to young gorillas. Realizing the animals were moving towards the snare, Ndayambaje decided to deactivate it.
Here is what happened next (from the press release):
Silverback Vuba pig-grunted at him (a vocalization of warning) and at the same time juveniles Dukore and Rwema together with blackback Tetero ran toward the snare and together pulled the branch used to hold the rope. They saw another snare nearby and as quickly as before they destroyed the second branch and pulled the rope out of the ground.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund hailed the gorillas’ accomplishment because this was the first time researchers had witnessed snare-removal by young gorillas. In past, only mature gorillas (usually silverbacks) had been observed disabling snares. That’s exciting because it implies that the young gorillas are learning from the older ones.