February 7th, 2011 by Zachary Shahan
Chimps, the more I learn about them, the more I want to learn. A recent story on BBC covers how some wild chimps have been documented intentionally setting off snare traps so as to not be caught by them. While people all over Africa lay such snare traps to catch bushmeat, it hasn’t taken some chimps long to realize that these things need to be approached cautiously and set off carefully so as to not injure or kill them, their family, or their friends. These smart chimps seem to look for these traps in order to safely set them off.
A number of chimps have been injured and killed by the traps, of course, and are reported around Africa. However, very few cases have been reported in Bossou, Guinea and a primatologists, Gaku Ohashi, and professor, Tetsuro Matsuzawa, who were following some chimps to study their social behavior very luckily noticed them taken care of some snare traps, explaining why so few chimps are injured by them in this region. These two researchers from the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University in Japan witnessed 5 make chimps (juvenile and adult) trying to break and deactivate snares — twice, successfully.
The researches described in the journal Primates six times when the chimps tried deactivating snares. In all cases, the chimps were very careful not to touch the dangerous parts or get caught in them.
While much of what chimps learn, they learn by trial and error, the researchers contend that these guys couldn’t have learned how these snares work in this way. “The observations indicate that chimpanzees can learn some manners without trial and error,” says Ohashi. The researchers think the chimps may have even learned how these snares work, more or less, over generations.
Unfortunately, chimps in other regions have not learned so much about these snares yet.
Read more about this story on BBC: Wild chimps outwit human hunters.
Photo Credit: dailyrandom
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