Wild chimpanzees in Guinea have learned to spring snares set by poachers without getting caught – saving their forest friends from capture in the process:
A typical snare, for example one made by the Manon people of Bossou, consists of a loop of iron wire connected by a vine rope to an arched stick, often a sapling.
The sapling puts tension into the rope and once an animal passes through the wire loop, the trap is sprung and the sapling pulls it tight, around the neck or leg of an animal.
Such traps cause indiscriminate damage, ensnaring any and all animals that come into contact with them.
But male Bossou chimps have worked out how to outwit the hunters and deactivate the traps.
In the journal Primates, the researchers describe six separate cases where chimps were observed trying to deactivate snares.
Mostly, the chimps grasped the snare stick with their hands, shaking it violently until the trap broke.
Sometimes a chimp lightly knocked the sapling that holds the snare, before grasping it to break the trap.
But in all cases, they avoided touching the dangerous part, the wire loop.