The Cross River gorilla
The Cross River gorilla is one of the rarest mammals in the world, with a total population of less than 300 individuals. In addition, the species is distributed in small isolated populations, some of which are found in conflict zones in Cameroon. Throughout its range, illegal deforestation and hunting are major threats.
The species is found in a number of protected areas, including Cross River NP, which receives technical and financial support from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), notably through PAPFor.
Given the alarming nature of the Cross River Gorilla’s conservation situation, it is classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ by the IUCN.
- Class: Mammal
- Order: Primates
- Family: Hominidae
- Genus: Gorilla
- Species: gorilla
- Sub-species: diehli
- Weight: 60 to 75 kg for females and 150 to 190 kg for males
- Size: up to 1.8 m when standing upright
- Diet: Fruit is a gorilla’s favourite food but it also eats herbaceous plants, prizing plants of the ginger (Zingiberaceae) and arrowroot (Marantaceae) families in particular. Occasionally, it will eat ants or termites.
- Social animal, forming small groups with a dominant male and typically 3-7 adult females.
- Life expectancy: not known
- Reproduction: Females generally give birth to their first young at around 10-11 years of age, after a gestation period of 250 days. Reproduction is slow, with at least four years between births to the same female.
There are two species of gorilla in Africa. The Eastern Gorilla is found in the east of the Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, while the Western Gorilla is widespread from southeast Nigeria to the west of the Congo Basin. The latter species is itself made up of two distinct subspecies, the rarest and least widespread of which is the Cross River Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli), found only in southeast Nigeria and southwest Cameroon.