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WWF: Cross River Gorillas are World's Rarest Great Ape

Pritam Kashyap
Pritam Kashyap

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has captured new images of the world’s rarest gorillas with several babies in southern Nigeria. The rare sight of the Cross River gorillas was spotted in the Mbe Mountains in Cross River State.  

Cross River gorillas are the world's rarest great ape, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) says. They are naturally wary of humans and have subtle distinctions from other species - such as smaller heads, longer arms and lighter-coloured hair. 

Only 300 Cross River gorillas are known to live in the wild, making them the most endangered sub-species. But the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) says this sighting raises hopes that the animals at risk of extinction are reproducing. Several infant gorillas are visible in the shots taken earlier this year.  

The primates were known to live in some mountainous areas in Nigeria and neighbouring Cameroon but are rarely seen. The WCS says it is working closely with a community organisation, the Conservation Association of the Mbe Mountains, as well as authorities in Nigeria's Cross River state to protect the primates. 

In total, there are only about 300 individuals found in an isolated region along the Nigeria/Cameroon border. In 2012, images of the gorillas were also captured in Cameroon‘s Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary. 

In a statement, Inaoyom Imong, director of Cross River Landscape for Wildlife Conservation Society Nigeria said that the latest sighting is proof that Cross River gorillas are “well protected and reproducing and populations are recovering as a result of field-based protection efforts.” 

WCS Nigeria director Andrew Dunn said it was the first time in his 17 years researching the extremely shy gorilla subspecies that he saw indications that their numbers were increasing again. 

"It is encouraging that there are multiple infants in the group, which means they…breed successfully," Dunn told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). 

Dunn said there have been more than a dozen eco-guards from surrounding communities to patrol and protect the gorillas and other wildlife. 

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Cross River gorilla is critically endangered as the designation for plants or animals deemed to face an "extremely high risk" of extinction in the wild. 

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