The world’s rarest gorillas have been caught on camera with babies for the first time, much to the delight of conservationists.
A remote camera operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society captured the remarkable photos of the group of rare Cross River gorillas in Nigeria’s Mbe mountains.
The most endangered gorilla subspecies, only around 300 Cross River gorillas are thought to exist, living in an isolated region along the border between Nigeria and Cameroon.
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“Cross River gorillas are rarely seen, let alone photographed, even by remote cameras,” explained WCS in a statement.
The photos clearly show a number of gorillas of different ages, including infants.
“It is extremely exciting to see so many young Cross River gorillas – an encouraging indication that these gorillas are now well protected and reproducing successfully, after previous decades of hunting,” said Inaoyom Imong, director of WCS Nigeria’s Cross River Landscape, in a statement. “While hunters in the region may no longer target gorillas, the threat of hunting remains, and we need to continue to improve the effectiveness of our protection efforts.”
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The Cross River gorilla group, including adults and young of different ages, Mbe Mountains, Nigeria May 2020. (WCS Nigeria)
Cross River gorillas are classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Threats to the species’ habitat include logging and wood harvesting, according to the IUCN.
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The World Wildlife Fund also classifies Cross River gorillas as “critically endangered,” noting on its website that efforts to protect the animals are focused on securing their forests where they live.