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Monday Maul: Gorillas Outsmart Hunters, Destroy Traps

Vin Paneccasio

“… They worked on the patient, sifting handfuls of fine Triassic sand into the crankcase, cutting up the wiring, the fuel lines, the hydraulic hoses to fore and aft attachments, dumping Karo into the fuel tanks. …” — Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang

Just last night, a friend returned my copy of Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang, which I’d loaned her many months ago.

“What a coincidence,” I told myself. “I’ve got sabotage on my mind.”

Lest those words raise the eyebrows of some illiterate, government troll, I’m referring here to a July 19 National Geographic News story that brought a smile to my usually scowling face.

“Just days after a poacher’s snare had killed one of their own, two young mountain gorillas worked together … to find and destroy traps in their Rwandan forest home, according to conservationists on the scene,” read the story’s lede.

Veronica Vecellio, the gorilla program coordinator at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International’s Karisoke Research Center,¬†was quoted in the National Geographic News article as saying, “This is absolutely the first time that we’ve seen juveniles doing that … I don’t know of any other reports in the world of juveniles destroying snares.”

Of the two young gorillas — whom the National Geographic News story identified as “Rwema, a male; and Dukore, a female; both about four years old” — Vecellio was quoted as saying, “They were very confident … They saw what they had to do, they did it, and then they left.”

While the sabotage carried out by the young gorillas is certainly worth celebrating, the National Geographic News story was careful to point out (paraphrasing Vecellio) that “actively instructing the apes would be against the center’s ethos.”

“We try as much as we can to not interfere with the gorillas. We don’t want to affect their natural behavior,” Vecellio was quoted as saying.

Indeed, it is human behavior that needs to change. As long as the savages among us seek spiritual and financial reward through the exploitation, torture, and murder of other species, I’ll root for their failure. And I’ll continue to celebrate when those failures are the result of other species defending themselves against us.

Monday Maul cartoons are created for The Daily Maul by New York-based artist Vin Paneccasio. Providing a fix for your schadenfreude jones, while spiritually rewarding, can be physically and emotionally exhausting. You can keep us alert and fairly lucid by keeping us caffeinated.


  1. Jess wrote:

    This is so awesome.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink
  2. David Brensilver wrote:


    It’s a hopeful story, isn’t it?


    Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

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