Gorillas safaris

Mountain Gorillas Learn to Dismantle Poacher’s Traps

Mountain Gorillas Learn to Dismantle Poacher’s Traps
Poaching is one of the key threats to the increase of mountain gorilla population in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. The act is mostly by local people who set traps in the jungle targeting to catch and kill bush animals for meat and other products like the skins. In most cases, mountain gorillas have fallen victims even when they are not the key targets for the poachers. The good news is that mountain gorillas have learnt to dismantle poacher’s traps, which give hope for their safety. The young mountains gorillas and juveniles have always been found dead in these snares. Learning to dismantle the snares is great news, which promote mountain gorilla safety in the jungle. Bush meat hunters set thousands of rope and branch snares in volcanoes national park, Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park, Mgahinga gorilla national park and Virunga national park where mountain gorillas dwell. The traps are intended for antelope and other species, which sometimes capture the apes. Adults are generally strong enough to free themselves whereas youngsters are not always so lucky.

How are traps set?
Poachers build snares by tying a noose to a branch or a bamboo stalk using the rope. After that, poachers they pull the branch downward bending it. They then use a bent stick or rock to hold the noose to the ground keeping the branch on tense. Light weighted animals are always hoisted into the air, which lead them to death. In most cases, trackers and rangers who patrol the forest have dismantled these traps.

How did gorillas learn to demolish the traps?
Mountain gorillas learning to demolish these traps were out of the bad moments and death they experienced before. The human character of mountain gorillas is believed to be one of the reasons these endangered species have been able to dismantle these traps. One time, as rangers in volcanoes national park were patrolling the park, he saw a black back destroying the trap. The young mountain gorilla ran to the trap and destroyed together the branches used to hold the rope.

Other threat to mountain gorillas

Loss of habitat
In addition to poaching, loss of habitat is a serious threat to the incre4ase of mountain gorilla population in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. The forests which shelter these critically endangered mountain gorillas are greatly lost to deforestation for charcoal, construction poles and firewood. Also, some trees are cut for medicine believed to cure different kinds of diseases. Also, local people encroach on the forests to expand land for agriculture and settlement. Most of these people were former dwellers of the forests and had access to all forest products with no restriction. They were later denied access when these forests were transformed into national parks chasing them out of the forest.

Insecurity/civil wars
Mountain gorillas are highly threatened by civil wars and unrests in their habits. Some of the gorilla national parks especially Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo is highly affected by these civil unrests. The park is believed to be a hiding place for rebel groups who disrupt gorilla tourism. The recent kidnap of travelers and the killing of park rangers in Virunga national park has led to the closure of the park till 2019.

Pre mature death
A big population of mountain gorillas is believed to die at an early age below 1 year. Harsh forest weather is one of the reasons for the premature death of mountain gorillas. Other diseases affecting mountain gorillas are related to respiratory infections and aspirations, gastrointestinal parasitism, hepatic capillariasis which all disrupt the heath of mountain gorillas.

Oil and gas exploration
This problem is common in Virunga national park democratic republic of Congo. Mining is by the European oil and gas companies, which were granted exploration concession in the national park. Some mountain gorillas have been killed in the process while others left with serious injuries.

Therefore, the act of mountain gorillas learning to dismantle and set themselves free from the trap is a great achievement. The endangered species are now free which gives hope for an increased population.

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