Rwema and Dukore had responded to one of their family being killed by a poacher’s snare by searching out similar traps around the forests of Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda. The traps are usually left for antelope and other animals who aren’t smart or strong enough to free themselves but often young gorillas and other smaller primates are caught with no way to free themselves and are often just left to die.
The snares themselves are primitive, essentially being a rope noose attached to a taut bent branch and hidden by leaves on the ground. One of the trackers in the forest, John, was combing the area for snares when he spotted one, only to be warned off by a nearby silverback as the two juveniles rushed towards the trap, one jumping on the branch and breaking it while the other untied the noose. They then rushed off to destroy another trap that even the tracker had missed!
‘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,’ said Veronica Vecellio, Co-ordinator at the DFGF Karisoke Research Center.