A rare species of gorillas was captured on one of four video cameras set up in Cameroon’s Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Cross River gorillas are said to be the world’s rarest gorillas, with only about 250 still alive.
“This video gives us all a spectacular view into the hidden world of one of our closest relatives, which is in dire need of our help to survive,” Steve Sanderson, president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said in an online statement.
Cross River gorillas are also the world’s most shy gorillas, at least around researchers. They don’t seem bothered by cameras though.
Footage from one camera shows several Cross River gorillas walking in the forest.
One male silverback appears to be showing off, researchers say. He beats his chest and appears to run toward the camera. Another gorilla takes a break and leans against a tree. One gorilla seems to be missing a hand.
“Cross River gorillas occur in very low densities across their entire range, so the appearance of a possible snare injury is a reminder that continued law enforcement efforts are needed to prevent further injuries to gorillas in the sanctuary,” said Dr. Liz Macfie, gorilla coordinator for WCS’s Species Program.
The Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary was established by the government of Cameroon in 2008 to protect the endangered gorillas. It evolved out of the “Gorilla Guardian” community network, created by the WCS to give gorillas a better chance to survive in unprotected forest sites in Cameroon.
Kagwene is the only site where daily monitoring of Cross River gorilla movements takes place, WCS says.
The infant gorilla's name is certainly appropriate – Ihirwe in the African language of Kinyarwanda, which translates to luck in English.
Rwandan authorities rescued the year-old primate Sunday night as poachers tried to smuggle her into Rwanda from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Wildlife Fund said Tuesday.
Mountain gorillas are critically endangered with fewer than 800 remaining in the wild in the mountains of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.
“The good news is that this infant was rescued before it was too late and is now in good hands. The bad news is that people believe there is a market for baby mountain gorillas and are willing to break laws and jeopardize the fate of a critically endangered species at the chance for profit,” Eugène Rutagarama, director of the International Gorilla Conservation Project, said in a statement. The project is a coalition of the World Wildlife Fund, African Wildlife Foundation and Flora & Fauna International.
The alleged smugglers, men from both Rwanda and the Congo, are in Rwandan custody, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The conservation coalition is working with Rwandan and Congolese authorities on an investigation into a possible smuggling network.
Despite years of chaotic warfare in and around their habitat in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the population of a group of Grauer's gorillas has grown, researchers say.
Researchers from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society ventured into the DRC's Kahuzi-Biega National Park recently to take a census of the Grauer's population for the first time since 2004, the organization reported on its website.