There are millions who love animals out there and would do everything to protect them. But there are also many who are actively harming them, from hunters to poachers and their tactics, just as at least their morals are questionable. And while the poor animals are often powerless to human cruelty, there’s nothing more to do in rare instances except fighting back.
Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s Karisoke Research Center confirmed one such instance back in 2012 when a ranger noticed something no one’s ever seen before. Two young mountain gorillas were seen working together to locate snares set up by poachers and to break them apart. Pretty impressive deed for an animal!
Representatives of Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund confirmed seeing gorillas escape the snares
“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,” reported Veronica Vecellio, who worked as a gorilla program coordinator at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund’s Karisoke Research Center. The research center is located close to the reserve where the action was taking place.
“We are the largest database and observer of wild gorillas … so I would be very surprised if somebody else has seen that,” Vecellio also claimed.
Reports say such behavior from the young mountain gorillas has been observed just days after such a trap killed one of their own. That may have been the motivation behind their new task. Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is a popular place for bushmeat hunters where they set up snares to catch antelope and other animals but sometimes apes end up in such traps. And while adult gorillas are strong enough to be free from such bonds, younger apes are not as lucky as they are.
Not even a week before the young were seen tearing down snares set up by hunters, another baby gorilla called Ngwino was discovered by Karisoke employees, who were sadly too late to save the life of the ape because it soon succumbed to snare-related wounds. As the poor gorilla tried to escape the bonds, her shoulder was dislocated, and gangrene had settled into her leg after the ropes had cut deep. According to animal conservationists, hunters rarely show concern in the trapped gorillas and let them suffer in snares.
All hunters and poachers often use snares to trap prey, as they are easy to set up without much planning. The snares are constructed using a rope to make a noose which a branch or a bamboo stalk then holds down. Local vegetation is used to camouflage the noose in such a way that it is not easily spotted and when the animal moves the stick, it springs upwards and the noose closes and traps the animal.
Trackers at the reserve also search the forest and avoid the snares and protect endangered animals that could fall to the snares. But, since they’re large in number and hard to spot, this isn’t exactly an easy job. Tracker John Ndayambaje spotted a snare near one of the gorilla clans but was warned by a silverback named Vubu who grunted an alert. Then, as two young gorillas, Rwema, a male, and Dukore, a female, both about four years of age jumped into the trap, the tracker witnessed something unexpected. Rwema jumped over and broke the bent tree branch, and soon Dukore followed to free the noose. The pair of heroes, joined by a third teenage ape, Tetero, was quick to find another snare that they broke apart right away just as they did the first.
While the behaviors are truly extraordinary and successful, the trackers indicate not being in favor of training the animals’ certain behavior. We want to mess with the natural lives the gorillas lead as little as possible and it would be against their code to incorporate a foreign activity. You can’t help but cheer when animals come up with a way of fighting back, right?