Chimps in Guinea teach each other to defuse poachers' traps

FLANLE (born in 2007 male) is part of the Bossou chimpanzee community. T. HUMLE

Chimpanzees in Bossou, Guinea, have figured out how to deactivate poachers snares, two researchers from the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University discovered. In a paper out today from Primates (which, unfortunately, you have to buy to read), Gaku Ohashi and Tetsuro Matsuzawa say they documented five chimps, from young to adult, disabling the snares.

The trick may explain why the chimps of Guinea don’t suffer as many snare injuries and deaths as chimps in other parts of Africa, the reasearchers says. Snares are a huge problem to chimps in East, Central and West Africa, where studies have shown 20-80% of chimps have deformities caused by snares set by bushmeat poachers. Bushmeat is called the biggest threat to biodiversity, so it’s great to hear the chimps are undermining it.

The chimps aren’t always successful (they only disabled one-third of the traps they messed with), but they know to avoid the steel ring that can hurt them. And, even more impressive, they seem to pass the knowledge on from generation to generation; one adult showed a youngster. Now if they could make some educational videos for the East Africa chimps.

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