Gorilla Killings

2007- Villagers in Bumaji, near the Cross River State Park acknowledged that there had been two gorilla killings in the last five years, apparently as a result of farmers and women collecting bush mangoes feeling physically threatened. This could be due to a lack of understanding of gorilla behaviour, or, of course, more financially motivated.
Bumaji is one of seven villages excluded from the National Park “Support Zone”, in which villages receive some money towards road building, scholarships etc. Villagers outside this zone might feel less respect for the National Park, since they are not directly benefiting from it. The park boundaries may need to be revised in order to be more ecologically based, so that the gorillas are protected throughout their ranges. (20)

2006- Two apes, possibly gorillas, were reported to have been killed in Bumaji, near the Okwangwo division of the Cross River National Park in October 2005. Since witness descriptions were unclear, these may have actually been chimpanzees, which are also a protected species. Apparently they were killed by a hunter who had heard the calls of a woman disturbed by them while she was collecting edible leaves in the forest. Due to the long lapse of time between the incident and the report in early 2006, very little evidence remained of what had happened. The hunter initially confessed, but later recanted, and the community refused to help with the inquiry. Two investigators from the Wildlife Conservation Society withdrew from the village after being warned it would be unsafe for them to remain there. It was also suggested that the report had only been made at this late date due to a local feud. Following this incident, a new ranger post was established nearby, and community rangers were recruited. (29)

1998- A hunter was arrested for killing a gorilla at the Afi site. He was recognized as one of the most prolific hunters in the region, over a period of about 12 years. Alternative employment had been found for him several times by the charity Pandrillus, but each time he returned to hunting. In the realisation that more serious action needed to be taken to stop this individual, he was arrested.(30)

1989- It was reported that twice as many gorillas were killed each year in Nigeria than were being born. At this time a single carcass could be sold for twice the usual monthly wage. (11)

1986- 15 communities hunted in the known Cross River Gorilla range. Just one of these communities reported killing eight gorillas. (11)

The Cross River Gorilla, in parts of its range has been lucky in that traditional practices have discouraged hunting, since their meat is considered taboo (Kagwene, Bechati-Fossimondi, some people on Obudu Plateau).(13) In other cases it is the sale of gorilla meat which is prohibited.(11) The Boki people are obliged to share it with all their family members, which can be an inconvenience outweighing the benefits of the catch, if the family is widely dispersed. (27) The prolonged presence of researchers and improved law enforcement have also helped alleviate this threat. (13)