The Cross River Gorilla is an extremely rare primate living in remote rainforest in Nigeria and Cameroon. Thought to be extinct until recently, a pocket of about 300 gorillas were found in a cross border location of about 4000 square meters (about 43055 feet). After generations of being hunted, the Cross River Gorilla inhabits the hardest to reach areas, in dense forest, far from man. Even if they catch a scent of people these great primates will flee into more inaccessible places.
Research has found Cross River Gorillas are a unique sub species, of the endangered Western Lowland Gorilla – genetically and physically different from other gorillas.
Efforts to conserve their numbers are being made by wildlife groups and governments. Focus is concentrated in the Cross River National Park in the east and the Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary in the west at the heart of the Mbe mountains.
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Helping Conserve Cross River Gorillas
Local tribes have continuously hunted cross river gorillas for bush meat; combine this issue with human encroachment on their habitat and the shrinking of the rain forest, largely by loggers, means they are extremely threatened. Dr Rich Bergl curator of conservation at North Carolina Zoo has been leading a team to help conserve the species and it’s habitat for over 10 years.
Dr. Bergl, working in tandem with the Wildlife Conservation Society has helped produce customized mobile computers, built to military specifications, that park rangers can use to track gorillas, record and organise their anti-poaching patrols.
Using these computer, GPS devices, in cooperation with the Wildlife Conservation Society rangers can map precisely where individual gorillas dwell during all times of the day and night and can records the geographical locations of potential threats to the animals such as gun shot sounds and placement of snares.
Dr Bergl stated the introduction of this technology was followed by a statistically significant decline in threats to wildlife. The devices have vastly improved ranger successes in monitoring and reducing illegal activities.
Experts like Dr Bergl, began using trace evidence left by these primates, to learn about them, especially their dung piles. Dung holds DNA that can be used to identify individuals, to estimate local numbers and to discover their sex. This provides accurate numbers of males and females inside the population. Dung can also be analyzed for parasites and other pathogens.
What is a group of Cross River Gorillas Called?
Cross River Gorillas live in groups called troops. Cross River Gorilla troops can range in size from 2 to about 12 in number.
What do Cross River Gorillas Eat?
Cross River Gorillas are mostly herbivores. They eat a wide variety of plants, tree bark and stacks of local plant, Afra Momo, which is a type of ginger. They strip the outside of the root and eat the inner fibers.
Appearance of Cross River Gorillas
Males on average grow up to 5 feet 9 in height. Females are noticeably smaller growing on average up to 4 feet 7.
Of black faces and large hairless brows, Cross River Gorillas have powerful long arms covered in black fur that spreads up their necks and over their heads. Orange hair sometimes grows in wisps on their heads and faces and forearms. They have shorter hind legs; gorillas most often walk in a quadrupedal (four-footed) manner and
interestingly, they walk on their knuckles and not on their palms. The males, ‘Silver backs,’ have barrel chests and pale hindquarters.
Roles in Cross River Gorilla Troops
The female’s rank in a group will usually depend on when she was recruited. Longer established females will be
the highest ranking, meaning her offspring will live closer to the dominant male, gaining his protection. The adult male is known as a silverback.
Adolescent males will often leave the parent group and remain solitary until they form their own troop. The silverback will make the group decisions; when he feels their are strangers or threats nearby he will tell the troop to move on with a series of large barks.
When gorillas notice humans nearby, the silverback will often make a mock threatening charge to give the rest of the troop time to escape. He will also release a pungent odor which humans can smell over 25 yards away (22.8 m).
Fantastic Facts About Cross River Gorillas
- Building of roads for logging or to gain access to remote villages has made it easier for bush meat hunters to enter the gorilla’s habitat.
- When gorillas see humans the silverback will often make a mock threatening charge to give the rest of the troop time to escape. He will also release a pungent odor which humans can smell over 25 yards away (22.8 mt).
- Gorillas spend about 13 hours searching for food and feeding every day.
- Gorillas make temporary nests with flattened branches and leaves each day, moving on each morning. This avoids the build up of parasites and insects.
Q & A
What is the Difference Between the Cross River Gorilla and Western Lowland Gorilla?
Cross River Gorillas they have shorter skulls, smaller palates and smaller cranial vaults than Western lowland Gorillas. Research also suggests that have shorter hands and feet.
What Genus are Cross River Gorillas?
Cross River Gorillas are of the Genus: Gorilla
What Sub Order are Cross River Gorillas?
Cross River Gorillas share their sub order with tarsiers and are known as Haplorhini
How endangered are the Cross River Gorillas?
Cross River Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla diehli), are listed as “Critically Endangered” on the ICUN’s Red list.