Over the last two decades, the critically endangered Cross River gorillas that live only in the lush forests of Nigeria and neighboring Cameroon have only gotten rarer. Between 1995 and 2010, the species experienced declines of a whopping 59 percent, reduced from a one-stable population to one in real danger of being wiped out entirely According to troubling announcement from the Wildlife Conservation Society, there are now believed to be as few as 300 Cross River gorillas left in existence.
"It is estimated that only 100 Cross River gorillas survive in Nigeria today, with an additional 200 in the adjacent forest of Cameroon," says WCS director Andrew Dunn.
"The reason for their dire predicament is widespread hunting for the bushmeat trade, although forest loss due to farming is also a growing problem threatening the habitat corridors that link the remaining gorilla refuges."
Conservationists from the WCS, along with Nigerian wildlife officials, have developed an action plan aimed at restoring the gorilla's diminishing ecosystem, while at the same time educating villagers of why these imperilled animals are worth protecting.
"WCS has established educational outreach programs for several communities living in and around Cross River gorilla habitat. These programs inspire local people to work alongside our conservationists," writes the group. "Additionally, WCS is seeking to generate more sustainable livelihoods and encouraging hunters to transfer their skills to further gorilla research and conservation."