Cross River gorilla captured on professional film for the first time17/12/2009 23:06:02
World's rarest great ape filmed
With the assistance of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Cameroon Program, a film crew videoed the elusive Cross River gorilla earlier this year in a stand of montane trees after weeks of effort in the Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary. The protected area was created in 2008, with the guidance of WCS, specifically to protect the world's rarest great ape.
Very wary of humans
"It's unbelievable that one great ape subspecies has never been filmed for TV so far," said Jörn Röver, Head of NDR Naturfilm. "We hope that our international production helps to raise awareness for these magnificent creatures and the work of the WCS."
The only previous footage available of the rare apes was taken from a long distance with a shaky, hand-held camera in 2005 by a field researcher.
Fight to save the world's least known and rarest ape
Cross River gorillas - Critically endangered
The Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary is a small reserve, only 19.5 square kilometers in size. Nevertheless, it contains a genetically important segment of the entire Cross River gorilla population; it is estimated that the sanctuary currently contains approximately 16 individual animals.
While many populations of gorillas are threatened by poachers, the gorillas of Kagwene have been protected by the local belief that the apes are people and therefore cannot be hunted or consumed.
Elsewhere, hunting continues to be one of the biggest threats to Cross River gorillas in addition to habitat destruction. Gorillas are occasionally targeted by bushmeat hunters in the region, and genetic analysis of the population reveals a reduction in numbers over the last 200 years that is most likely due to hunting. The fragmentation of their forest habitat is caused by farming, road-building, and the burning of forests by pastoralists to encourage new grass for their herds.
Funders for efforts to conserve Cross River gorillas include: the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (the German Development Bank), the Arcus Foundation, WWF, the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation, the Taronga Foundation, the Kolmarden Fundraising Foundation, and the North Carolina Zoo.