Cross River, Nigeria-Cameroon

Cross River Gorilla Video
Fewer than 300 Cross River gorillas survive across their remaining range in Cameroon and Nigeria.
©NDR Naturfilm
Cross River, Nigeria-Cameroon Photo
©Aaron Nicholas

The Cross River landscape spans the border between southeastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon. One of the richest tropical rainforest areas in West Africa, it encompasses Nigeria’s Cross River National Park and Cameroon’s Takamanda National Park. This important trans-boundary protected area was created with the help of WCS, primarily to safeguard the Cross River gorilla. With only about 300 individuals remaining, it is the world’s rarest great ape. In addition to gorillas, the region harbors other primates such as drills, chimpanzees, and guenons, forest elephants, and more than 500 species of birds. The area is also a critical watershed for surrounding communities and wildlife.

Fast Facts

  • More than 355 bird species have been recorded in this hotspot; 50 of them are endemic to the Afromontane highlands—or the mountains of Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula—and 15 are globally threatened.
  • The Cross River gorilla has been designated one of the world’s 25 most endangered primate species at risk of global extinction.

Challenges

Over the past 200 years, bushmeat hunters have severely reduced gorilla numbers. Fragmentation of the forests by farming, road building by logging companies, and burning by pastoralists also threatens the species’ survival and the integrity of the landscape.

WCS Responds

Since 1996, WCS has supported Cross River gorilla research and conservation efforts across the subspecies' range, helping to manage protected areas that provide refuge to these critically endangered apes. In 2008, together with the government of Cameroon and other partners, WCS helped create Takamanda National Park, which safeguards a third of the Cross River gorilla population. Long-term research studies at sites such as Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary in Nigeria and the Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary in Cameroon are giving us a better understanding of Cross River gorilla ecology. By studying how these gorilla populations use their limited habitat, WCS will be able to recommend protective measures for habitat corridors that link the disparate groups.

WCS is also working to improve livelihoods and encourages hunters to transfer their skills to further gorilla research and conservation. To ensure long term sustainable conservation of this rainforest and the critically endangered Cross River gorilla, the landscape is earmarked to become a key site in WCS’s Carbon for Conservation Program.

From the Newsroom

Elusive Apes Caught on CameraSeptember 28, 2012

For the first time in history, camera traps captured footage of Cross River gorillas—the rarest of the great apes. Field conservationists devoted to their study rarely spot them, so our colleagues in Cameroon's Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary were floored by footage they discovered last May. Watch as eight gorillas stroll through the woods, and be sure to look out for an incredible demonstration of power by a silverback.

Video Captures Hidden World of Elusive ApesMay 8, 2012

Rare camera trap footage of Cross River gorillas reveals candid behaviors of these rarest of apes as they make their way along a forest path in Cameroon’s Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary.

An Investment in Stripes and RibbitsFebruary 9, 2012

In a big boost for wildlife, 23 new species conservation projects will receive funding from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the World Bank, and the Global Environment Facility.

New Turf for the Rarest GorillaFebruary 1, 2012

A high-tech study of Cross River gorilla habitat finds that the critically endangered ape’s range is more than 50 percent bigger than previously documented. By protecting habitat corridors between the gorilla’s populations, conservationists may be able to help their numbers grow.

Forest Elephants Are Running Out of SpaceAugust 17, 2011

In the rainforests of Central Africa, hunters are finding their way into once inaccessible terrain, spelling disaster for forest elephants.

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