WildAid, an environmental NGO, says that Nigeria’s surviving Cross River Gorillas are threatened by extinction.
This is contained in a statement by Kelechukwu Iruoma, Nigeria’s WildAid Representative, on Saturday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 24 September is World Gorilla Day.
It is an annual event celebrating gorillas and empowering global communities to take action for gorilla conservation.
WildAid said that the Cross River Gorilla, which lives in the mountainous border area of Nigeria and Cameroon, is Africa’s most threatened ape, with a population estimated at fewer than 300 individuals.
It said that around 100 live in Nigeria and are found only in three protected areas across the Cross River state: Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary, Mbe Mountains, and the Okwangwo division of Cross River National Park.
“In the last two decades, illegal activities such as bushmeat hunting, logging, expansion of settlements, and agricultural encroachment have continued to destroy their habitats and threaten the survival of the rare Cross River gorilla.
“Snares intended for other animals as bush meat often trap Cross River Gorillas, injuring or killing the great apes,” WildAid said.
The statement quoted Simon Denyer, Africa Programme Manager for WildAid, as saying that Humans have pushed Cross River Gorillas to the brink of extinction.
“The few who remain are scattered in small groups in rugged terrain, and any deaths or further habitat loss would threaten their very survival.”
“It is critically important to protect their remaining sanctuary and protect this important part of Nigeria and Cameroon’s natural heritage,” Denyer added.
WildAid said that the Cross River Gorilla has been listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as Critically Endangered.
“The global population of gorillas stands at around 1,063, found in countries such as Nigeria, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda, which is home to over 50 per cent of the Gorilla’s global population.
“Gorillas provide an important draw for Uganda’s tourism industry, which contributed 7.75 per cent of its GDP and 6.7 per cent of total national employment in 2018, according to research by the African Nature Based Tourism Platform.
“While Uganda makes millions of dollars annually in gorilla tourism and therefore garners more conservation efforts, Nigeria’s gorillas face extremely serious threats,” the statement said.
The environmental NGO said that It was not too late to save Nigeria’s remaining 100 Cross River Gorillas.
“Individuals and communities need to be enlightened and sensitized on the need to protect our gorillas.
“We urge the Nigerian Government to also update its wildlife laws to combat the threats facing our iconic gorillas.”
“WildAid is also calling on all Nigerians to say No to Illegal Bush meat as a way to ease some of those pressures on Gorillas and other important species who are trapped and killed in snares set for bush meat,” WildAid said.