The most endangered gorilla subspecies in the world has been sighted in Cross River, southern Nigeria. This sighting has raised hopes of a resurgence for these primates, believed to be extinct until the late 1980s.
The Nigerian branch of the Wildlife Conservation Society made these findings after discovering footage of a few gorillas, and their babies.
The Cross River gorillas were spotted in the dense Mbe Mountains in Cross River state by a camera set up by the Wildlife Conservation Society(WCS).
“Cross River gorillas were once presumed extinct in Nigeria and only “rediscovered” in the late 1980s. These new images are “an encouraging indication that these gorillas are now well protected & reproducing successfully,” said Inaoyom Imong, Director of WCS_Nigeria CR Landscape.
The subspecies is said to be critically endangered and at one point only about 300 were known to be alive within the mountainous area in Nigeria and Cameroon, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The gorillas stay shy of human activity, as their few populations have been the target of hunters in the past. Images of the gorillas were also captured in 2012 in Cameroon’s Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary.
“The latest sighting is proof that Cross River gorillas are “well protected and reproducing,” after decades of being targeted by hunters”, Inaoyom Imong continued in a statement released on Wednesday.
The society said it has been working with several communities to ensure the gorillas’ protection and since 2012, no deaths of the subspecies have been recorded or reported in Nigeria.
Gabriel Ocha, head chief of Kanyang, one of the villages near the Mbe Mountains, said the images are proof that his community’s conservation efforts with the WCS are yielding results.
“I am very happy to see these wonderful pictures of the Cross River gorillas with many babies in our forest,” Ocha said in a statement.