Gorillas Outsmart Poachers
According to field staff from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, several young gorillas have been spotted destroying snares that are set to maim and kill wild apes. “Today, two juveniles and one blackback worked together to deactivate two snares and how they did it demonstrated an impressive cognitive skill,” a staff person from the Karisoke Research Center told the Huffington Post. Just two days before, one such snare had severely injured a young ape named Ngwino, who dislocated her shoulder in a desperate attempt to escape. What’s worse, she contracted gangrene from cuts to her leg.
John Ndayambaje, the Fossey Fund field data coordinator, said he saw a group of gorillas nearing a snare, when a silverback called Vuba made a sound of warning. Two juveniles and a blackback responded by running toward the snare and destroying it with their bare hand. They did the same to another snare nearby.
This is only the latest demonstration of ape intelligence documented by researchers. Last year, scientists in Senegal observed chimpanzees using sharpened spears to kill smaller mammals before eating them. In the 1990s, Stanford researchers saw chimps hunting colobus monkeys with their bare hands. And decades of research shows that apes have better memories than college students, learn language through exposure (as human young do), and can be both socially violent and deeply empathic.