World's rarest gorilla caught on film

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
December 16, 2009



The first ever professional footage of the world's rarest gorilla, the Cross River gorilla ( Gorilla gorilla diehli), has been shot deep in the forested mountains of Cameroon. The only other existing footage of this Critically Endangered subspecies was taken from far away by a field researcher in 2005.

After weeks of effort, the Hamburg-based NDR Naturfilm was able to capture footage of a Cross River gorilla feeding on a fig tree some 30-40 feet above the ground in the Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary, a park created just last year to protect a small group of this subspecies of the lowland gorilla.

"These gorillas are extremely wary of humans and are very difficult to photograph or film," Dr. Roger Fotso, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Cameroon Program, said in a press release. "Eventually, we identified and staked out some of the gorillas favorite fig trees, which is where we finally achieved our goal."


Still from film of Cross River gorilla. Photo © NDR Naturfilm.
WCS, which is non-invasively monitoring the gorillas in the park, was instrumental in guiding the filmmakers to the animal.

"It’s unbelievable that one great ape subspecies has never been filmed for TV so far," said Jörn Röver, Head of NDR Naturfilm. "We hope that our international production helps to raise awareness for these magnificent creatures and the work of the WCS."

Hunting for bushmeat is the greatest threat to the Cross River gorilla. In addition, habitat loss for agriculture, roads, and pasture-land has diminished and fragmented the gorillas' forests. It is estimated that only 250-300 Cross River gorillas survive.

"These extraordinary images are vital for the fight to save the world’s least known and rarest ape as well as the mountain rainforest on which they depend," said Dr. James Deutsch, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Africa Program. "Over the past twenty years, local communities, the governments of Cameroon and Nigeria, funders, and committed conservationists have laid the foundation for a great conservation success story. We hope these pictures will introduce to the world the lead players in this story, the Cross River gorillas themselves."

The footage by NDR Naturfilm can be seen here: http://www.wcs.org/multimedia/videos/cross-river-gorilla.aspx







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CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (December 16, 2009).

World's rarest gorilla caught on film .

http://news.mongabay.com/2009/1216-hance_crossriver.html