Gorillas destroy poachers’ snares

Gorilla breaking branch connected to snare, photo credit Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

From Wildlife Extra:

Young mountain gorillas observed destroying poachers’ snares for the first time!

Some gorillas have learned to recognise and remoce snares – Sadly not all

July 2012. Field staff of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund observed several young gorillas in Rwanda, from a family of gorillas known as Kuryama’s group, destroying snares set by poachers!

Deactivated 2 snares

“We knew that gorillas do this but all of the reported cases in the past were carried out by adult gorillas, mostly silverbacks,” said Veronica Vecellio, gorilla program coordinator at the Karisoke Research Center. “Today, two juveniles and one blackback from Kuryama’s group worked together to deactivate two snares and how they did it demonstrated an impressive cognitive skill.”

Gorilla killed by snare – Second this year

Snares set by poachers are one of the worst threats to the safety of the mountain gorillas. The timing of this is especially significant in light of the death just two days ago, on Sunday, of juvenile Ngwino, who was caught in a snare. The rope made severe cuts into her leg, resulting in gangrene, as well as a dislocated shoulder caused by trying to escape from the snare. Although Fossey Fund staff intervened and, with vets from the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP), made every effort to save her, it was too late. Hers is the second death this year resulting from a gorilla being caught in a poacher’s snare.

Young gorillas destroying snares

John Ndayambaje, Fossey Fund field data coordinator, reported that he saw one snare very close to the group; since the gorillas were moving in that direction, he decided to deactivate it. 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.

Four snares removed by trackers

Four other snares were also removed by our trackers in the same area.

“Our battle to detect and destroy snares from the park is far from over, however, and the recent death of Ngwino, has given us all further motivation. Today we can proudly confirm that gorillas are doing their part too!” said Felix Ndagijimana, director of the Karisoke Center.

More about Dian Fossey and gorillas here.

See also here.

July 2012. Despite of the ongoing civil war in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the government authorities and M23 rebel commanders have authorized the park’s rangers to search for the missing gorilla families in rebel-held territory in the Mountain Gorilla Sector of Congo’s Virunga National Park. On Tuesday 24 July, a team of 45 rangers will begin a multi-day operation to find and monitor the condition of six mountain gorilla families, some which have not been seen for over 10 weeks: here.

Gorilla brothers reunited: here.

Mountain gorilla population recovering: here.

September 2012. Over the last 30 years, great ape numbers have plummeted across Africa, due to increasing rates of commercial hunting, habitat destruction, and disease. A continent-wide, data-based overview of their habitats is now possible, as the results of surveys from over 60 sites have been combined through the IUCN/SSC A.P.E.S. (Ape Populations, Environments and Surveys) database: here.

July 2012. The illegal primate trade in Indonesia remains high in two big cities in the country: Jakarta and Palembang (South Sumatra). The investigative report of ProFauna Indonesia and the International Primate Protection League (IPPL) shows that dozens of primates are killed for the meat and brain as delicacies every month in both cities: here

16 thoughts on “Gorillas destroy poachers’ snares

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  3. After many decades of experience working with these magnificent great apes, we know exactly which tactics are most effective for tackling the main threats that are killing gorillas:

    Finding and disabling snares – Even though the traps are not generally set to harm gorillas, they are hidden all throughout gorilla habitats. Some gorillas lose a limb to these snares. Others die from infections to the wounds. WCS is researching the use of snare-sniffing dogs in Cameroon and Nigeria to locate and disarm snares.
    Protecting gorillas from humans with weapons – Gorillas have few natural predators, but they’re no match for a person with a gun. That’s why parks are patrolled with ecoguards. These men and women are committed to protecting gorillas. In times of crisis, they’ll even lay down their lives. But the passion of these ecoguards isn’t enough – they need housing, equipment, and pay for their extraordinary work.
    Protecting gorillas from humans with chainsaws – When the forests they live in are cut down, gorillas have no place to go. That’s why WCS works to establish protected parks where gorillas have plenty of space to play, grow, and live freely.

    All of these strategies need more resources if we’re going to stop gorillas’ downward spiral.


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