In an instance of good news for the environment, a group of the rarest subspecies of gorillas was captured by a camera in the Mbe mountains in south-east Nigeria.
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) put out a press release announcing “he first-known camera-trap images of a group of Cross River gorillas with a number of infants of different ages.”
After decades of being attacked by poachers, these gorillas shy away from humans and are known to live in the densest and most inaccessible parts of the forest.
This subspecies of the western gorilla is critically endangered and considered the world’s rarest gorilla.
The sighting of this rare gorilla means much more to conservationists than the average person might think.
WHAT DOES THE SIGHTING OF THESE CROSS RIVER GORILLAS MEAN?
According to Inaoyom Imong, director of WCS Nigeria’s Cross River Gorilla Landscape project, the images of the gorillas are the clearest sign of the species’ gradual resurgence, reported The Guardian.
“It is extremely exciting to see so many young Cross River gorillas – an encouraging indication that these gorillas are now well protected and reproducing successfully after previous decades of hunting.”
Otu Bernard Eban, the head of a local clan, said –
“Seeing this today rekindles my hope.”
Professor John Oates, lead author of the first Cross River gorilla action plan in 2007, said –
“It is wonderful to see images of gorillas from the Mbe Mountains that show so many young animals, indicating that the population there is in good health. Back in the early 1970s it was widely thought that gorillas were extinct in Nigeria, but work subsequently initiated by the Cross River State Government, and later supported and expanded by WCS and local communities, has clearly held the line and given hope for the long-term survival of these primates.”
However, we must keep in mind that this sighting does not mean that the fight is over. We need to ensure that the cross river gorillas are given adequate protection, and to ensure that they grow in numbers and move out of the “critically endangered” category.
Imong added –
“While hunters in the region may no longer target gorillas, the threat of hunting remains, and we need to continue to improve the effectiveness of our protection efforts.”