AFRICA’S MOST ENDANGERED GREAT APE
Once thought to be extinct, this unique subspecies of gorilla “resurfaced” in the 1980s and is found only along the southern section of the Nigeria–Cameroon border. Preferring habitats of low- and mid-elevation rainforest and montane forest, the remaining Cross River gorillas live in roughly 11 subgroups dispersed amongst the region’s highland areas. One of four known subspecies of gorilla, Cross River gorillas most closely resemble western lowland gorillas but differ in the dimensions of their skulls and teeth. Researchers have also recognized a number of socio-ecological distinctions.
Like other gorillas, the Cross River gorilla reproduces slowly, with females giving birth only once every four to five years. Since their estimated numbers hover at fewer than 300 individuals, this critically endangered species depends on conservation efforts and law enforcement for its survival.
|Scientific Name||Gorilla gorilla diehli|
Illegal hunting for bushmeat and habitat loss threaten the future of Cross River gorillas. Until recently, many Cross River gorillas lived outside of protected areas, where they were highly susceptible to poaching. While the region where these gorillas dwell is known for unusually high levels of biodiversity, human population growth is placing increasing pressure on the area’s forests and wildlife. For instance, extensive agriculture and logging operations divide the gorilla’s habitat into isolated blocks.