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Gorilla Youngsters Seen Dismantling Poachers’ Traps (2012) (nationalgeographic.com)
541 points by johnny313 33 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 140 comments



In Aotearoa-New Zealand we set traps for introduced species like stoats, rats, possums, etc. that kill our endangered wildlife that evolved without natural predators.

The Kea which are very smart mountain parrots will go and disarm the traps in order to eat the bait. They're smart enough to have figured out how to do this, and are one of just a handful of animals that habitually use tools, but are unfortunately too smart for their own good because their handiwork means there's more predators for them.

But, some people don't give animals enough credit. Mammals and especially primates are very, very close to Humans genetically. Animals are often very smart.


> unfortunately too smart for their own good because their handiwork means [certain doom]

Reminds me of a certain mammalian species.


Reminds me about https://www.epsilontheory.com/too-clever-by-half/ which is incidentally very much about the mammalian species you are thinking of, as well as canids.


> introduced species like stoats, rats, possums, etc. that kill our endangered wildlife

Yep. Like. Humans?


Almost like this trait might be inherent in all mammals. Or does it go even higher? All animals? All life? Evolve intelligence, begin building your doom?


Plants are possibly in that club too: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azolla_event


I thought this would be something more like how plants chemically communicate with each other about insect infestations so other plants can proactively protect themselves or "scream" (give off a pulse) when attacked.


GP was talking about life causing its own doom, so I thought that plants causing a climate change and mass extinction due to uncontrolled growth would be appropriate.

This does miss the "crafty solution to an immediate problem" part that you and the original article mention, though.


I totally misunderstood what you were going for.

In that vein, one of my environmental studies textbooks had a comic of microbes creating oxygen way back when and some of the microbes holding protests against them poisoning their environment with all that icky oxygen waste gas, ew.


Kea are birds.


If you’re hiking in NZ, especially in alpine territory, watch out for Kea. They will figure out how to steal your food, even if it’s in the pocket of your bag!


And all alpine chalets and cabins in Kea habitated areas have warning signs about leaving windows open with pictures of the share devastation they cause when they get inside. Where I live we have Kaka which are related to Kea. All they do is tear trees to shreds.


This is a problem with baboons in chalet and cabin areas in the southern African bush as well. They're able to get into a window (if not locked) and devastate a cabin in their search for food, they're able to open chip and food packets, unscrew jar lids etc. In their case I think the opposable thumbs are what really come in handy.


I’ve seen south-african monkeys carefully opening the rear-door of tourist cars (as they stopped to take pictures), grabbing some loot, and running away as fast as light. There are actual human thieves who are dumber than that.

Monkeys make me nervous, it’s like I’m looking at drunkards in a pub: probably stronger than me in hand-to-hand combat, only slightly less smart, undoubtedly more vicious, and completely unpredictable to the untrained.


> I think the opposable thumbs are what really come in handy.

they literally come in handy :-)


The Cockatoos and other parrots love to get in rooms at various resorts in Australia as well. We had them destroy a packet of chips and spread it around a room while staying on Hamilton Island.


This smartness and their very consciousness and ability to suffer is what makes industrialized meat production so ruthless.


I generally avoid meat for this and other reasons, but the Kea for sure don't seem to care about animal rights:

> The video confirmed what many scientists had long suspected: that the kea uses its powerful, curved beak and claws to rip through the layer of wool and eat the fat from the back of the animal. Though the bird does not directly kill the sheep, death can result from infections or accidents suffered by animals when trying to escape.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kea#Sheep


Or cats playing with mice, or ants, crows or vultures eating sick animals alive, or seagulls biting bits off of whales ...

No, animals are not nice themself.

But if we claim, we are higher evolved, we can do different.


Make no mistake, animals are ruthless. Watch a documentary about hippos. What happens when a new bull takes over is messed up.

We aren't simply hunting. We cage and destroy at a scale natural death can't match. There are deals like 6 chicken wings for $2. No thought is given to the conditions these animals are raised into slaughter.


Allow me to add that somewhere, I believe we're changing for ourselves first ... people are probably missing some sense of value, some bond with nature and animals, some sense of worth, and food quality.

At least when humans used to hunt, they had to make a real effort to eat, they had skills, they knew first hand what it was to kill and bleed an animal, they didn't waste. All these are existential bonuses.


So, what you're saying is the Keas that stripped the rubber round my windscreen up at Mt Hutt, thought my car was a big metal trap with tasty goodies inside?


I think they just like to watch our reactions.


Some are even filming this for KeaTube. "You won't believe how this Human reacts to broken car windows" - 12 million views.


Clearly the next step is to somehow communicate with the Kea.


How does their handiwork make them targets?


The traps are there to kill the introduced predators that hunt the Kea, their eggs, and chicks.

By disarming the traps there are more predators to hunt them.


on the other hand, having more predators culls the less cunning: the specific predator as an individual that was going to end up in the trap is probably not going to eat the specific Kea bird that disarmed this trap. So the Kea bird that disarms a trap has a benefit at a cost to the group of Kea birds, so comparatively this Kea bird has an advantage over the other Kea birds...


Stoats, rats, and posums are introduced invasive predator species in New Zealand, which prey on native birds such as parrots.

By disabling traps, the parrots increase their predator population.

A classic case of solving for a net-harmful local optimum.


What’s the bait? Interesting that either the Kea or their predators are omnivorous enough that would happen.


Apparently Eggs. Also the research shows that they enjoy the noise of setting off the trap. They also throw things off cliffs just to hear them hit the bottom.

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2018/09/extraordi...


A lot of parrots seem to do this. A very simple game of action > weird reaction (fun sound).

Parrots use their loose feathers as sticks, ripping them off and cleaning out the inside of their beaks.


Sounds like cat behaviour to instinctively sweep all the items of a table / shelf and watch with interest as they fall.

My theory is that it seems too hardwired to be a "fun game" and instead a selected trait because "things knocked off a great height become more edible" e.g. eggs etc.


Parrots are fucking smart, man. You have to be smart to do weird useless shit to amuse yourself.


Man, have I got a video for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uXiAe7Oc-I (It's a crow sledding)


Oh god. Crows and octopodes are my shortlist of who will succeed humanity as the sapient Terran species. Crows probably first; octopodes are smarter, but crows have culture and that’s more important than intelligence because it provides another axis of Darwinian evolution.


Well, can a mountain parrot turn a can into a work of art??


Could you give such animals tools to hunt predators? Like little spears, suddenly turning the balance of weapons around towards the tool users?


> "If we could get more of them doing it, it would be great," he joked. Karisoke's Vecellio, though, said actively instructing the apes would be against the center's ethos. "No we can't teach them," she said. "We try as much as we can to not interfere with the gorillas. We don't want to affect their natural behavior."

I would think that the main danger is in habituating the gorillas to humans, teaching them that we're safe when we're not. It may be better if any human interaction with them is aversive but not damaging, like pepper spray.


Definitely this moral grey area where ethics arguments on both sides are completely valid.

- Messing with natural behavior

vs

- Not being able to adequately defend oneself because we're stuck debating an ethics question

While it is a bit of a straw man attack - if this were humans, the answer would be clear.


Pepper spray is actually quite damaging.


I'd also think that there's a good chance that it would be damaging mostly to the human on the other end of the spray cannister.


It was an example, captain pedantic.


He is actually not a captain.


This comment is way underappreciated.


Few technologies will ever stand up to the will of adolescents trying to do things they’re told they’re not allowed to do -- Scott Berkun [1]

[1] https://scottberkun.com/essays/37-how-to-build-a-better-web-...


>Veterinarian Mike Cranfield, executive director of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, also said he wasn't shocked by the news.

>"Chimpanzees are always quoted as being the tool users, but I think, when the situation provides itself, gorillas are quite ingenious," he said.

>Cranfield speculated that the gorillas may have learned how to destroy traps by watching the Karisoke center's trackers.

Looks like they may have learned it from watching humans.


Or how about the video of the orangutan fighting the bulldozer destroying its home? I used to think people just didn’t realize that animals have internal emotional, social, intellectual lives. But I’m now convinced we know and choose to look away. Tragically.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/8896313/david-attenbor...


"Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds"

You know what bothers me? movies like the lord of the rings trilogy that make us yearn for an imaginary a more magical time.

We are living in the end days of that magical time right now. We don't need fantasies about walking/talking trees when there are 'magical' animals we share the planet with right now that we haven't bothered to get to know.

Some have already been wiped out, and the others, well we are working on it...


Nobody yearns to live in those imaginary places, they yearn to talk about them and think about them. The real world is far more dangerous and scary than the most treacherous fiction.


At the beginning of Dune, someone differentiates humans from animals like this:

> You've heard of animals chewing off a leg to escape a trap? There's an animal kind of trick. A human would remain in the trap, endure the pain, feigning death that he might kill the trapper and remove a threat to his kind.

The idea is recognizable, at least. It's antelope individually scattering from a cheetah, rather than forming a tight group that wouldn't be attacked a second time. But it's sad, and kind of funny, just how wrong it is to draw that line at 'humans'. Gorillas disarm traps instead of avoiding them. Elephants defend their friends, even across species, and bury their dead. Dolphins proactively kill sharks, and hold injured dolphins - or humans - at the surface to breath. Even octopuses, not usually understood as a social species, display clear theory of mind.

It's not just the endless redefinition of "tool use" that feels like hubris anymore. Just about everything we consider deeply meaningful, emotion and intellect and teaching and even ritual, is not a uniquely human experience.


My pet theory is that most animals know they’re conscious and know they are part of one consciousness.

Humans evolved an illusion that we are alone in an individual consciousness because it was an adaptation: the mistaken belief makes it easier for us to kill, and kill in large numbers. Which happened to work well for us. It let us kill off any humans who thought there was anything wrong with carving out a new world without regard for the cost to other creatures.

Without that adaptation we never would have created civilization.


We're very highly tuned for amplifying differences in humans. You get to know some people, and you see them as completely different. People also judge children as different from adults, when from a more objective perspective, the differences are fairly minimal. Animals don't stand a chance.


Beautiful and true


We don’t “look away”, we grant large mammals a huge degree of respect. They are just old foes in a war we resoundingly won. Allowing them a degree of parity without restarting the conflict, is just challenging.


> "No we can't teach them," she said. "We try as much as we can to not interfere with the gorillas. We don't want to affect their natural behavior."

Tsk. Like the Prime Directive but in the real world.

Well, isn't it the natural behaviour of gorillas to learn? If they can learn by observing humans, without the humans specifically intending it, then what's so different, or unethical, if it's done with intent? I think this is just splitting of moral hairs that is missing an opportunity to help the gorillas protect themselves against poachers.

Anyway, if we left the gorillas on their own, without interfering, they'd eventually be wiped out by poachers and others.

P.S. It strikes me that the center's workers could have actually shown the gorillas how to dismantle the snares and are only pretending to be surprised at their "unprecedented" behaviour. But I'm proably just paranoid and jaded.


I'm no wild animal training expert, but surely there's a risk training gorillas could backfire?

humans training gorillas leads to gorillas being more trusting and less suspecting of humans, including poachers, or some other unintended consequences.


Or it triggers a cascading increase in intelligence, and they end up taking up arms and conquering us.


In every species except man, the benefits of intelligence are largely limited to a single individual or a small family clan. Without widespread cooperative behavior there can be no evolutionary pressure to push intelligence to our heights. What use is it for a gorilla to read or have complex language if it can't be used to cooperate with a large number of other individuals?

Unfortunately, both Darwinian genetics and game theory tell us that cooperative behavior is exceedingly unlikely to emerge. In fact, there exists no well supported theory that fits the Darwinian genetic model of evolution for how non-kin cooperation could have emerged in the human species, let alone one that's widely accepted or which is supported by evidence. All the existing theories are predicated on the argument that cooperation is beneficial therefore evolutionary would select for cooperation, but neither genes nor evolution have foresight.

On the other hand, it should be abundantly clear that the types of intelligence which benefit the individual or a family clan arise readily in nature. Tool use, teaching, even culture are clearly widespread; they're simply circumscribed by well known genetic counter pressures. Cheating strategies spontaneously emerge and effectively limit the establishment of cooperative behaviors to close kin and, to a lesser extent, non-kin that are genetically incentivized to play along (e.g. mating partners or prospective mating partners), but only to the extent that have the incentive to play along. The two species of mammals which exhibit the greatest degree of systematic social cooperation (i.e. the ones closest to humans in terms of eusociality, though still not remotely comparable) are bonobos and mole-rats. Predictably, those groups are predominately composed of cooperating genetic sisters, so in fact their behavior is more analogous to bees and ants than to humans in terms of how and why eusociality exists.

It follows that the emergence of non-kin cooperative behavior likely preceded our intelligence. This is the bottleneck--not thumbs or speech or whatever phenotype du jure, including complex intelligence. None of this stuff stands up to scrutiny. All the evidence and theory clearly points to cooperative social behavior, for which there's little reason to believe was predicated on some simple phenotype. If only we knew how we passed through that evolutionary bottleneck....


Perhaps it is wars, of all things, that made cooperative behavior an evolutionary advantage? Larger, better cooperating groups are more likely to win. Smaller groups are more likely to get wiped out. I sometimes think that humans are half way to becoming a superorganism with individuals as cells. But the superorganism actually benefits from some individualist cells, unlike real organisms where cells are supposed to perform their task and shut up.

I recently watched Band of Brothers. It is about people sticking together to kill other people. Why the hell is that interesting to me? I blame genetics.


Matt Ridely argues something like this, characterising it as trade within a group, and perhaps it began with the hunter/gatherer division of labour between the sexes. https://wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rational_Optimist

Can you elaborate on your sources?


> In every species except man, the benefits of intelligence are largely limited to a single individual or a small family clan.

Gordon Bennet, justify that claim!

If a few individuals are smart enough to disarm traps, are you saying that is not going to put an upward pressure on intelligence? (assuming it's hereditary).

> What use is it for a gorilla to read or have complex language

So intelligence is only relevant to complex language use? And not, for example, food acquisition?


Intelligence is clearly useful for almost everything. And that's exactly my point. The closer we look the more intelligence we find in nature. But there's a tremendous qualitative gap between human-type intelligence and everything else. When we believed other animals were dumb we were always underestimating the complexity of our own intelligence. What has been relatively clear, however, is that intelligence everywhere else in the animal kingdom is mediated by the lack of systemic, non-kin cooperation, because higher-orders of intelligence increasingly require the cooperation of other individuals to operationalize.[1]

Squid and octopus have jaw-dropping intelligence, clearly aimed at food acquisition. But they only mate once and then die, and so long as that's the case it's clear why cooperative behavior will never arise and why their intelligence maxes out at whatever is useful for the individual alone. (Note, however, such intelligence my incidentally promote limited types of cooperation. You have to be careful to distinguish the selection pressures to understand the limitations.)

Gorillas may learn how to disarm traps, but multiple gorilla troops are never go to learn to gang up together for their common defense and well-being such as by actively teaching other troops how to disarm traps, at least not in an evolutionarily meaningful sense, even though from our perspective it would be advantageous for the species as a whole. There's no genetic pressure for that. The genes that might promote non-kin cooperation are countered by genes for selfishness or laziness.

The fundamental dilemma is that benefits of cooperation partially inure to non-cooperators. If one gorilla disarms a trap then every gorilla benefits to some extent; to the extent they benefit then selection pressure is diminished for the trap-disarming intelligence trait to propagate as it's unnecessary to have the gene to reap those partial rewards. So what happens is that the species reaches an equilibrium according to how the costs & benefits are allocated.

Because of how genetics works, both the costs & benefits of cooperation and intelligence are moderated by degrees of kinship. The equilibrium reached--the selection pressure for stable, multi-generational cooperative intelligence--will always be a strict function of kinship. At least until a species can passthrough the bottleneck that humans did, after which things clearly get more complex. I don't know the mathematical function, but AFAIU game theory shows that selection pressures for cooperation basically drop off a cliff after the first or second generation.

Again, evolution doesn't have foresight nor intelligence of its own; it can't preference one trait over another simply because one trait leads to greater reproductive success down the road, or great success for the species as a whole. It can't disfavor genes for cheating or laziness as long as those strategies are equivalently successful for each individual's reproductive success considered in isolation.

Being able to disarm a simple trap clearly has tremendous benefit to the individual and the kin in his troop, no matter that almost every other gorilla in the forest benefits to a substantially similar degree regardless of kinship. So no surprise gorillas can do this, given other factors (e.g. in the abstract, slow rates of reproduction mean there's greater pressure for smarter individuals; whereas for species with high rates of reproduction other strategies will predominate). But legions of gorilla troops aren't going to start systematically disarming traps in the forest. Yes, they could if they spontaneously developed the certain types of intelligence, like complex communication and organizational behaviors, but those types of intelligence are predicated on being able to rely on a high degree of selfless behavior of non-kin, and that is unlikely to happen. As far as we know, in the billions of years of life on earth that qualitative kind of cooperation has only happened once. (Our degree of intelligence has also only happened once. That's unlikely to be a coincidence. My argument is that the former preceded the latter, at least at our branching point. Afterward intelligence may have driven greater cooperation in a virtuous cycle, but we shouldn't have much confidence that we can understand that process without understanding the genesis.)

My overarching point is that we can easily predict the types of intelligence exhibited in the article using basic, high-school level genetic theory. We should expect many more fascinating examples like this from gorillas, chimpanzees, orcas, dolphins, etc. And we can easily predict the limits of such intelligence similarly. Weird theories about sex or thumbs or w'ever, however, cannot explain how a species transitions to comparatively selfless, non-kin cooperation because they can't explain the mechanics of the selection pressures within the framework of Darwinian genetics; and because they can't do that they can't explain how a species is put on the path to human-level abstract intelligence.

[1] That the social groups of bonobos and naked mole-rates are organized around sisters is something that many research papers gloss over and often fail to mention at all. I actually had to dig through the literature to confirm this. (I'm not a biologist, FWIW.) Note this is distinct from a matriarchy. All that matters is that the seemingly atypical degree of social cooperation is most easily explainable by genetic relatedness. Occam's Razor says that Bonobo's non-reproductive sexual behaviors, for example, are ancillary to the core dynamic driving their cooperative social structure, rather than being a driver. And so analogizing Bonobo sex with human sex doesn't actually teach us anything; it doesn't suggest that social sex promotes cooperation, just that cooperative behaviors may correlate with social sex, which should be obvious.


How about religion? A perfect way to enforce/incentivize non-kin cooperation, instruct and transmit first principles across large groups and inter-generationally, organize and lead to cooperative behavior. Religion is the foundation of human civilization.


I don't know about conquering us, but gorilla warfare is a distinct possibility.



That's not how intelligence and evolution works.


That is how a joke works however


except this isn't Reddit.


> If they can learn by observing humans, without the humans specifically intending it, then what's so different, or unethical, if it's done with intent?

I think this might interfere with some research involving the gorillas. You cannot study their natural behaviors if you are assisting them. Not to say there isn't research teams looking to train gorillas, my point is that may not be THEIR focus. While they cannot control for poachers, they can control for them own interactions. Furthermore, not to slippery slope, but to what end do you believe they should be allowed to interfere? If, say, a diseased food source begins to decimate the group that could be prevented through cooking, should the researchers attempt to teach them how to cook the food source to kill the bacteria?


It's a lot harder to study them if they're dead. I'm heartily in favor of assisting them to the extent they want to learn, it's possible that the more effort we make to communicate the more we'll learn ourselves.

Also, if they're capable of learning then they're sapient by definition which means we have some moral obligations to them rather than being disinterested observers, because it's our species that is trying to kill them.

Perhaps we should start considering them as different species of people rather than mere livestock.


> Also, if they're capable of learning then they're sapient by definition which means we have some moral obligations to them rather than being disinterested observers

It's because we have moral obligations to them that researchers try not to interfere.

> Perhaps we should start considering them as different species of people rather than mere livestock.

If we considered them livestock they'd be in cages. These researches are treating them as we treat many uncontacted tribes of humans.

---

It's fine if you disagree with the option, but this approach has nothing to do with being callous or indifferent, it's just a different point of view on how best to protect them. And in my opinion, it's a reaction to the full contact approach that was already tried in the 60s/70s, and frankly didn't go well for either side.


Training them to disarm traps could cause more harm than good. Training them to avoid traps would maybe be better. If poachers learn that their prey are hanging around the traps all day disarming them they become lures. We also don't want an arms race between poachers and trained disarmers because the poachers are at a massive advantage. Once they know a significant number of their traps will be disarmed they will just develop traps that are more difficult to disarm or even traps that hurt the animal attempting to disarm them at which point we've trained Gorillas to walk right into their traps.


From the article, the poachers are not directly hunting for gorillas or other monkeys. When they find them in the traps, they leave them there to die.


> I think this might interfere with some research involving the gorillas. You cannot study their natural behaviors if you are assisting them.

I think this is a very poor argument. First of all, conservation trumps research. Secondly, their environment already isn't "natural" when it has got snare traps in it.

> If, say, a diseased food source begins to decimate the group that could be prevented through cooking, should the researchers attempt to teach them how to cook the food source to kill the bacteria?

Seems far-fetched, but in principle: Yes, why the hell not?


Teaching gorillas how to make fire - what could possibly go wrong ;-)


Spit roasted poachers?


Add giving them goggles for when they don't see well.

Ear devices for when they don't hear well.

A wheelchair for when they can't walk.

I'm afraid when Darwin passes by ( other group of gorillas) and the word of the strongest will be law.

( Just thinking out loud, with controversy :) )


Technology assures long term survival and it is in a species best interest to develop them. That is apparent. Now the question is how do you nurture technological development?


I can agree somewhat.

Except if it makes genetics weaker on the very long term and tech becomes a requirement instead of optional.

Glasses, smoking, IVF,...

Ps. I wear goggles myselve. And I know the above will be a hated opinion.


It makes genetics different. Your argument sets the default environment to be fit for the stone age one. I can respect that, but it needs to be put explicitly more often than it is.

It could go like "If we were to suddenly revert to, in the far future, some sort of stone age like environment, our distant descendants may be very unfit for that environment. This would be unfortunate."


> Add giving them goggles for when they don't see well.

see no evil

> Ear devices for when they don't hear well.

hear no evil

> A wheelchair for when they can't walk.

...okay, you lost me there


Congratulations, you've reinvented eugenics.


Exactly. It's more natural to allow humans to poach them out of existence than it is to potentially equip them to protect themselves from the same?


Yes, hunting is a thing


[flagged]


IMO, hunting poachers should be legal, pricey, and encouraged. Sell licenses to hunt poachers, deputize them, and use the proceeds to improve protection of the wildlife.

Obviously only part of the solution, but considering that the poachers, especially of elephants & rhinos are now largely part of organized crime syndicates, totally fair.


What happened to due process?


They are getting more due process than they give their victims, which are also fully sentient, intelligent beings.

As far as I'm concerned, you hunt down a gorilla, elephant or similar with a high powered rifle, trap, or poison their water source, then use a chain saw to hack out their tusk or hand to sell, you've turned in your human-card for good.

At the very least, they've signed up for "Live by the sword, die by the sword". (and they at least have the ability to shoot back at their hunter, more than the elephants/gorillas have)


Hunting licenses constitute due process, no?


It's always strange to me when people seem to think humans and the things we do and make aren't "natural." We evolved naturally on the this planet like all other life here did, what we do is natural.


"Natural" by definition characterizes things that aren't a result of human activity. All you've realized is that it's a synthetic distinction and not a fundamental one, but if you turn around and include humans then its literally meaningless and you just lose a useful concept.


I feel that if any human was found to be teaching gorillas how to do human things, they would ultimately suffer punishment like Prometheus who taught humans how to use the fire of the gods.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koko_(gorilla):

”Hanabiko "Koko" (July 4, 1971 – June 19, 2018) was a female western lowland gorilla known for having learned a large number of hand signs from a modified version of American Sign Language (ASL)”

Wikipedia thinks Koko’s teacher still is alive (aged 72), so punishment certainly wasn’t swift.


Reports of actual language use by Koko were famously exaggerated, and only seemed to happen with her teacher working with her. Hardly stealing fire.


1) Prometheus isn't real

2) The punishment of Prometheus is based on him being immortal. Humans would die after the first round.

You're going to die anyway, being a martyr for the gorilla revolution doesn't seem like the worst way to go.


Do you think the center has a trained eagle?


Could the gorillas be the poachers? The story seems consistent with the gorrilas warning the tracker by grunt to stay put, then dismantle their nearby traps to protect the humans. This is also consistent with the fact that the tracker hadn't noticed the second trap. I don't really believe my suggestion though, but the coincidence probability does seem rather low for 2 such trap-dismantling events during a single encounter between tracker and gorillas. If they spontaneously dismantled strictly for themselves, I'd expect the traps to already be dismantled, if the gorillas preferred the traps dismantled. Perhaps human poachers set the traps, and the gorillas for some reason benefit or are entertained by the trapped animmals?

>On Tuesday tracker John Ndayambaje spotted a trap very close to the Kuryama gorilla clan. He moved in to deactivate the snare, but a silverback named Vubu grunted, cautioning Ndayambaje to stay away, Vecellio said.

>Suddenly two juveniles—Rwema, a male; and Dukore, a female; both about four years old—ran toward the trap.

>As Ndayambaje and a few tourists watched, Rwema jumped on the bent tree branch and broke it, while Dukore freed the noose.

>The pair then spied another snare nearby—one the tracker himself had missed—and raced for it. Joined by a third gorilla, a teenager named Tetero, Rwema and Dukore destroyed that trap as well.


From the article:

>"If we could get more of them doing it, it would be great," he joked.

>Karisoke's Vecellio, though, said actively instructing the apes would be against the center's ethos.

>"No we can't teach them," she said. "We try as much as we can to not interfere with the gorillas. We don't want to affect their natural behavior."

I wonder if this "prime-directive" style rule might be something they consider changed - if there was a way to teach the gorillas to disabled various kinds of traps it seems that would be great.

On the other hand, I wonder what the side effects would be.. anyone?


Kind of makes you wonder if human evolution was driven by predation.


I just realized that it is a 7 years old article!


This makes me wonder how will the rest of the lifeforms will evolve in future. Will gorillas become more intelligent to survive in a current human dominated environment? Will they evolve to the point, where they become early versions of the homo sapiens?


So,is present time the another Neanderthal moment in our history?


I wonder if we should show them how to write software?


Based on the quality of some code bases I suspect that we passed that point long ago.


Not software probably, but could be a plan B for Uber's "driverless" cars.


Gorillas are way too big for that. They would require larger, more expensive cars and more food than, for example, Bonobos.

You could also try to use pigeons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Pigeon)


That's probably not as stupid as it sounds. Well, actually it is, but if horses can drive their carriages autonomously, could we teach gorillas to do the same for cars?


You know there's a very famous sci-fi musical about why this would be a bad idea!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlmzUEQxOvA


Give them a way to transmit video tutorials to other gorilla's, skip writing.


I imagined the adult gorillas sitting around going "Kids these days, they're so tech-savvy."


Millennial gorillas are killing the poaching industry.


I at first read this as "Guerilla Youngsters Seen Dismantling Poachers' Traps."

Either way I'm all for it.

cwkoss 33 days ago [flagged]

When will governments start selling licenses to hunt poachers?


Not here, please.


Hunt poachers, then sell their organs legally at market price, and then take a cut of the profits. This way the government does not even have to pay for anything.

Of course, highly controversial idea, but if you really want to curb down poaching, it might be a good way to fight back with better incentives.


I recall an article on poachers in africa. In that particular case it was down to poverty - I poach or my children go hungry. I've no doubt we'd all do the same.


I suppose the market for parts of dismembered idealistic Westerners might offset the market for animal parts, if that's what you're thinking.


I for one welcome our new overlords, I hope to serve them well.


"Kids these days are so rude"


Maybe we should experiment with giving these gorillas knives, see what happens.


Dismantling the poachers?


A gorilla doesn't need a tool to kill a person - have you ever seen a gorilla?


The problem here is that poachers could have guns, so even though gorillas are extremely strong, and a gorilla with a knife is a scary prospect close-up, a poacher with a gun wouldn't have much problem killing the gorilla.

The solution is simple: give guns to gorillas and teach them to shoot them. Now we'll have gorilla warfare...


"Well, first we had the right to arm bears, and then everyone said that wasn't fair. Now we're arming gorillas, too!"


What we fear most: Kids with Guns.

- Gorillaz


I feel like apes with guns doesn't lead anywhere good. I saw a documentary about that somewhere.


I must have missed that one. I saw a documentary where a really old ape was telling the young ones about how dangerous and murderous humans were, and how they had invented guns to help with their murderous intentions.


Give them javelins and teach them how to use them. It will certainly solve the poaching problem!


Chimps are known to create and use spears but for stabbing rather than throwing <https://phys.org/news/2015-04-chimps-senegal-fashion-spears.....

AFAIC they don't seem to understand how to throw, and aren't physically well adapted to do so.


Technically we don't either. But we could still make poacher dismantling more efficient for them.


Poaching the poachers....


Whittling?


Viewing a video on screen of a man in gorilla suit killing poachers dwith knife.

The pandas seem to dig it: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/993236...


"If, as you say, it is no crime to be a panda, then why were we arrested?"


Poacher: We're setting traps to give you Gorillas new homes.

Gorilla dismantling trap: No. Caesar IS home.


They are setting traps for bush meat


>Bush-meat hunters set thousands of rope-and-branch snares in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, where the mountain gorillas live. The traps are intended for antelope and other species but sometimes capture the apes.

>The hunters, Vecellio said, seem to have no interest in the gorillas. Even small apes, which would be relatively easy to carry away for sale, are left to die.

Pretty misleading for the title to blame poachers then, isn't it?


If someone breaks into your house to steal your TV, knocks over a candle, doesn't put out the fire and leaves. Are they not to blame for the fire even if they were only interested in the TV?


Considering it's a national park, hunting antelope is probably also considered poaching.


Yes. That's why setting trap in some countries is a strictly regulated activity and lethal or harmful traps are almost always forbidden. You can't always catch what you intended to, so you have to give a way out to the guy you caught by mistake. Snares without a stop are harmful by design.




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