A camera in a Cameroon forest was able to capture footage of an elusive tribe of Cross River gorillas, a critically endangered species in Africa, in their natural habitat.
The nearly 2-minute-long footage, posted by the Wildlife Conservation Society, shows eight Cross River gorillas ambling through the forest. One gorilla takes rest against a tree before it follows the others. Another is seen running through the forest path beating its chest.
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, said Steve Sanderson, WCS President and CEO according to the Daily Mail.
The population of this endangered species is estimated to being less than 300 worldwide. They live in the mountainous regions along the Nigeria-Cameroon border in West Africa.
The Cross River gorillas are a subspecies of the Western gorillas. The notoriously shy primates are considered to be the most endangered of all African apes.
The video represents the best images to date of Cross River gorillas, normally shy animals that flee at the slightest hint of human presence. The footage provides us with our first tantalizing glimpses of Cross River gorillas behaving normally in their environment, Christopher Jameson, director of the Takamanda Mone Landscape Project, told OurAmazingPlanet.com. A person can study these animals for years and never even catch a glimpse of the gorillas, much less see anything like this.
The Cross River gorillas are threatened by forest clearing and an exploitation of natural resources. They are also susceptible to bush meat trade, which is a practice of hunting for endangered wildfire for subsistence or trade, according to the Taronga Conservation Society Australia. Locals use the primates in traditional ceremonies and practices.
At about 1:18 in the footage, a gorilla missing a hand comes into the frame. The wound looks healed, but the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement that the injury may have been caused by a hunter's trap.
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, Liz Macfie, gorilla coordinator for WCS's Species Program, said in a statement.
Cross River gorillas are extremely shy and known to flee at the sight of humans.
The footage was captured by one of four camera-traps the Wildlife Conservation Society set up in the Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary, which was established by the government in Cameroon in 2008. 20 to 30 gorillas call the sanctuary home, reported Red Orbit.
Spectacular footage such as this, which we've never had before for Cross River gorillas, is absolutely vital to inspire local people, the governments of Nigeria and Cameroon, and the global community to care about and to save this unique subspecies, said Dr. James Deutsch, Executive Director for WCS's Africa Program, according to the Daily Mail. Continued research of this kind will help fine-tune management plans to protect this rarest of apes.