World's Most Endangered Gorilla Subspecies Photographed With Babies
Cross River gorillas are the most endangered sub-species, with only around 300 of them known to be alive in the wild. They are currently listed as 'critically endangered'.
However, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has said these new images give hope to the species as they show a number of young gorillas clinging on to their mums - meaning the animals are reproducing in the wild.
Professor John Oates, lead author of the first Cross River gorilla action plan in 2007, said: "It is wonderful to see images of gorillas from the Mbe Mountains that show so many young animals, indicating that the population there is in good health.
"Back in the early 1970s it was widely thought that gorillas were extinct in Nigeria, but work subsequently initiated by the Cross River State Government, and later supported and expanded by WCS and local communities, has clearly held the line and given hope for the long-term survival of these primates."
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Images shot earlier this year show the gorillas seemingly staring straight into the cameras which were set up in the Mbe mountains in southern Nigeria.
They differ from other species as they have smaller heads, longer arms and lighter-coloured hair. They are naturally wary of humans, the BBC reports.
They are found only in an isolated region along the border of Nigeria and Cameroon and sightings are very rare, making these new images all the more special. These recent snaps are the first time that multiple infants have been photographed at the same time.
The WCS say it is working with Conservation Association of the Mbe Mountains, as well as authorities in Nigeria's Cross River state to help protect the animals.
Inaoyom Imong, Director of WCS Nigeria's Cross River Landscape said: "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. 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."
Featured Image Credit: WCS Nigeria
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