Five male chimpanzees living in a forest in Africa have learned how to deactivate and destroy snares set out by hunters.
The latest issue of the scientific journal Primates reported that scientists have been observing an interesting phenomenon demonstrated by five male wild chimps living in Bossou, Guinea.
The group has not only learned how to outsmart hunters who set out traps, but these clever fellows are teaching the technique to younger chimpanzees, as well.
The discovery was made when researchers realized that the chimpanzees living in a particular forest suffered from very few snare-related injuries and deaths – compared to primates living in other areas.
The traps are notorious for cutting off the arms or legs of the chimpanzees.
In Bossou hunters are actually trying to catch cane rats rather than chimps, but many times other animals get caught in the snares.
Discovery News said, “Villagers at Bossou do not eat chimpanzees because they think of chimps as the reincarnation of their ancestors.”
Researchers from the Japan Monkey Center observed the Bossou chimpanzees for nearly two years. During that time they recorded six instances where five different male chimps took specific steps to deactivate or destroy traps they found.
In one instance, a male chimpanzee came to the aid of a female and her one-year-old infant who were moaning by a snare that had caught and killed an antelope. The chimp grabbed hold of the snare and shook it until it broke.
Another time a group of adult chimps huddled around a young male while he “completely deactivated the snare by causing ropes attached to it to become untied.”
The scientists believed the adults were watching the younger chimp as a kind of test, suggesting the deactivation technique may “have been passed down through the generations and carried on in the group as culture.”
In other parts of Africa chimpanzees are often maimed by the snares and loss of limbs is common.
In a forest in Uganda researchers found 10 out of 16 males with injuries to their limbs and in another forest one-fifth of all the chimps had limb deformities because of the snares.
Chimpanzees in these other forests are known to use their voices to alert each other about the traps.
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