Africa’s Most Endangered Great Ape
The Cross River Gorilla Campaign is a collaborative effort to raise awareness and funds for the conservation of the Cross River gorilla, Africa’s most endangered great ape. The African Conservation Foundation (ACF) and the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) have been at the forefront of conservation in Cameroon since 2004. Our work collectively and individually have led to the successful gazettement of several protected areas by the Government of Cameroon, including Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary (2014) and a chain of community reserves, together forming a rainforest corridor.
The Cross River Gorilla Conservation Programme seeks to provide long-term protection of these unique great apes through in-situ conservation in the Cross River border region of Cameroon and Nigeria. This border region is also home to other threatened species such as the Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis), Drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus), Mandrill (Mandillus sphinx), Preuss’s monkey (Cercopithecus preussi) and Forest Buffaloes (Syncerus nanus). It is also a biodiversity hotspot for birds and butterflies.
Cross River Gorillas are distributed across 11 sub-populations between Nigeria and Cameroon. They number not more than 300 in the wild. We focus not only on creating protected areas but also develop ecological corridors. This will ensure that the subpopulations will not decrease in isolation through genetic inbreeding. Our projects always include local communities from the very start of the project, through consultations and community-led initiatives. This has led to successful sustainable livelihood activities and active engagement of community members (so-called eco-guards) in forest and wildlife monitoring.
Did you know?
Cross River gorillas were first discovered by German mammalogist Paul Matchie in 1903. Matchie named the gorillas after a certain Mr. Diehl, who sent him a set of 8 skulls from the gorillas of the Cross River region, which was then part of German controlled ‘Kamerun’.
In subsequent years they faded from view and for a long time scientists thought the population was extinct. There were not thought to be any gorillas left in Nigeria, and perhaps none in Cameroon either, and due to a war (1966-70) no one had been able to survey the area to find out for sure.
In 1983, Cross River Gorillas were rediscovered. Evidence of gorillas living in the Mbe mountains in Nigeria was uncovered by Clement Ebin of the Cross River State Forestry Department. With this revelation, more searches were initiated in the region, and gradually more groups of gorillas were found in the Cross River region of Nigeria and Cameroon.
Conservation activities in Western Cameroon Highlands area began in 2003 following the discovery of new Cross River gorilla sub-populations in unprotected areas.
AFRICAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION
The African Conservation Foundation (ACF) works to preserve Africa’s wild heritage by building local capacity for conservation. Our current programmes include field surveys, conservation, monitoring, training of local rangers, conservationists and educators, conducting environmental education for schoolchildren. In Cameroon we work with ERuDeF on great ape conservation, rainforest conservation and development of new protected areas. With our focus on training and education, we are a catalyst for sustainable community development, environmental awareness and biodiversity conservation throughout Africa.
ENVIRONMENT AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION
The Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) is a Cameroonian non-profit organization founded in 1999. It is the only indigenous non-profit working on research and conservation of great apes in Cameroon. The organisation pursues the dual objective of conserving wildlife and protecting fragile environments in Cameroon. Founded and based locally in Buea and Menji in Western Cameroon, ERuDeF has established itself as the most important source of conservation expertise in both the montane and critically important rainforest biomes.