Camera traps recently captured images of a new group of Cross River gorillas. And surprise: several youngsters have joined the ranks. Great news for this species hard hit by poachers.
The Cross-River Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) is a subspecies of the Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla). Evolving in the border area of Nigeria and Cameroon, in the tropical and subtropical forests of the region. It is the most endangered primate on the planet. As such, it ranks among the critically endangered species.
And for good reason, these gorillas have long been the target of poachers. In recent decades, populations have been decimated to the point that by the year 2000 there were fewer than 200 left in the wild, living in small, dispersed groups.
Efforts paid off
Since then, protective measures have been put in place and various sanctuaries have been demarcated. Since 2005, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Conservation Association of the Mbe Mountains have co-managed one, located on the steep slopes of the Mbe Mountains in Nigeria.
In recent years, eco-guards have been deployed to patrol the area, ensuring that no one approaches the gorillas. At the same time, awareness campaigns targeting the importance of conservation are carried out with local populations.
These efforts are bearing fruit. According to the last census, the population of gorillas in the Cross River is now estimated at around 300. As testimony to this momentum, photographic traps have recently captured the images of a previously unknown group, in which several small d ‘different ages.
“Passing on this heritage to future generations”
Usually, environmentalists indirectly detect the presence of these gorillas from their nests or by targeting their droppings and feeding trails. Being able to appreciate these images is therefore very rare.
“It is extremely exciting to see so many young gorillas – an encouraging indication that these primates are now well protected and successfully reproduce after decades of previous hunting,” enthuses Inaoyom Imong, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society Nigeria’s Cross River Landscape. “Although hunters in the region no longer target gorillas, the threat remains, and we must continue to improve the effectiveness of our protection efforts.”
Otu Gabriel Ocha, chief of the village surrounding Kanyang I, also rejoiced. “I am very pleased to see these magnificent photos of gorillas with many babies in our forest,” he said in a statement. “This shows that our conservation efforts in partnership with WCS are paying off. I hope we can pass this heritage on to future generations. “