Saving the Last Cross River Gorillas

May 1, 2009

Critically endangered, rarest of all great apes receives increased attention in the Year of the Gorilla

BUEA, SW Cameroon, May 1 /PRNewswire/ — Following the declaration of 2009 as the Year of the Gorilla, the African Conservation Foundation (ACF) and the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) are launching a special campaign aimed at raising awareness about the plight of the Cross River Gorilla.

The Cross River Gorilla Campaign assists the international efforts of the Great Ape Survival Project (GRASP) to secure a long-term viable future for great apes in the wild. GRASP is a project of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The goal of the campaign is to focus attention and raise awareness about the relatively unknown Cross River gorilla as well as to raise funds for its conservation. A number of expeditions have been organised in the past years to survey the entire range of the remaining gorilla family groups.

The team also takes part in one of the most daunting challenges in Africa – the Mount Cameroon Race – raising awareness for gorilla conservation and involving youth of the local communities, which landed the team in the third position this year. The Mount Cameroon Race, climbing up to 4,100 meters above sea level, remains the most dangerous race for people because of its terrain, climate and topography.

The Cross River Gorilla is listed as being critically endangered and can only be found in a small area – 12,000 km2 – around the Cross River straddling the border between Cameroon and Nigeria. Critically endangered means that gorilla numbers have decreased, or will decrease, by 80 percent within three generations if the situation remains the same.

Currently there are fewer than 300 Cross River gorillas remaining. Like many endangered species, Cross River gorillas are being threatened by loss of habitat due to human encroachment into their natural habitats.

“Cross River Gorillas face additional dangers because of changing rainfall patterns due to climate change,” said Arend de Haas, director of ACF. “Bushmeat makes up a large proportion of the animal protein being eaten locally. Gorillas have also been killed by local residents due to perceived danger and or human-wildlife conflicts such as crop-raiding.”

Since 2003, ACF has been working with ERuDeF on the conservation of great apes in the montane rainforests in South West Cameroon. Conservation efforts for the Cross River Gorilla under the Regional Action Plan adopted in 2007 include the establishment of community managed protected areas, education and training of former poachers, transboundary conservation planning, development of ecotourism as well as improved legislation and law enforcement.

    More information is available at:

    Contact ACF Director Arend de Haas by e-mail at info@africanconservation.org

About African Conservation Foundation

The African Conservation Foundation (ACF) is working towards the protection and conservation of Africa’s endangered wildlife and their habitats. It is a registered NGO in Kenya, Cameroon, and Tanzania and in the United Kingdom.

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SOURCE African Conservation Foundation

Source: newswire

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