Gorillas eat fruit, tree bark, pith, terrestrial herbs and leaves. Although they seem to prefer fruit, this is scarce during the dry season so they must depend on other sources of nutrition. The season of fruit scarcity is longer in this more northerly region (4-5 months) (19).
Cross River Gorillas eat more liana and tree bark throughout the year, and less fruit during periods of scarcity, than Western Lowland Gorillas. In Afi, gorillas travelled longer distances when consuming large amounts of fruit, while at Kagwene, the gorillas travelled shorter distances when fruit was abundant. (13)
In their search for food the gorillas may leave their usual ranges, especially when food is scare, either to search in other parts of the forest, or to visit the lowlands, where they can come into conflict with farmers. Although they may damage crops such as banana and plantain, gorillas are not the most destructive animals in this region. Small mammals, and some larger ones such as wild pigs, are worse than primates. (20)
When gorillas do feed on crop plants they can ruin stands of plantain or banana, thus causing a big problem for individual farmers. In January 2006 there were reports of gorillas having caused damage on six farms in two villages near Afi, however according to locals this was the first time in 20 years that such an event had occurred. The combination of the scarcity of food, the proximity of these farms to the forest, and the recent protection against hunting, may have led to this excursion. It is this sort of conflict that can create tension in the local communities, and is one reason why the inclusion of local people in conservation plans is so important.(21)