News

Saving the Cross River Gorilla

Nyango is the only known Cross River gorilla in captivity. She lives in the Limbe Wildlife Center in Cameroon.
Nyango is the only known Cross River gorilla in captivity. She lives in the Limbe Wildlife Center in Cameroon.
Joe DeCapua

The U.S. is helping to save an elusive and endangered species of gorilla in West Africa. The Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wildlife Conservation Society have developed a five-year plan to ensure the survival of the primate.

Dirck Byler of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service said the Cross River gorilla is not as well-known as its relatives in other parts of Africa.

Critically endangered

“There’s two different species of gorilla actually. There’s the western gorilla and the eastern gorilla. And the one that people are most familiar with are the eastern gorillas, specifically the subspecies known as the mountain gorilla, which is found in Rwanda and Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The western gorilla is found in the western part of the Congo Basin in countries such as Cameroon, Gabon, northern Republic of the Congo. And then one of their subspecies is called the Cross River gorilla. And this is the most endangered gorilla species today,” he said.

In fact, the Cross River gorilla has been classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the IUCN.

“It’s much more endangered than the mountain gorilla is and unfortunately hasn’t received as much attention over the years,” said Byler.

Byler, program officer for the Great Ape Conservation Fund at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said it’s believed there are only a few hundred of the gorillas left.

“We don’t really have a good estimate of what the population was before, but it was likely many thousands. But over the last hundred years as human population has grown in this area they were hunted down to a very small level of 250 to 300 individuals scattered across 13 little pockets on the border of Nigeria and Cameroon,” he said.

Just 10 to 15 years ago, the Cross River gorilla was thought to be either extinct or nearly extinct.

“With actually a lot of support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the work of conservation NGOs like the Wildlife Conservation Society we’ve been able to get a handle on where the remaining populations exist. So our understanding from a scientific point of view has increased dramatically,” he said.

Survival of the subspecies

Two new national parks have opened in Cameroon that offer safe haven for the gorilla. One is the Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary, which was created with a grant from the service. The other is the Takamanda National Park, which was converted from a forest reserve.

Part of the five-year plan to save the Cross River gorilla is to have local communities act as guardians for the primates.

Byler said, “Many of the gorilla populations still lie outside protected areas and national parks and will never probably be included in national parks. And so through working with local communities to curtail hunting and to provide alternatives to hunting in many of these places we think we can get a handle on hopefully stabilizing the population and even increasing it.”

So how many Cross River gorillas would there have to be in order for the species to be considered safe? Byler said it’s difficult to set what’s called a goal population.

“Maybe doubling the population in the next 20 or 30 years would be tremendous. And whether that would be enough to ensure its long term sustainability is in question, but it sure would be great progress if we could achieve that. The reproductive rate of gorillas is very slow and it takes a long time to actually increase a population,” he said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is able to offer its assistance in Africa and elsewhere through the Great Ape Conservation Fund. It was established by Congress in 2000. The fund allows the service to offer conservation grants ranging from $50,000 to $100,000.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs