In a rare sighting, conservationists have captured images of rare Cross River gorillas with several babies in Southern Nigeria.
The rarest of all the great apes, Cross River gorillas are the most endangered sub-species and only around 300 are believed to be still alive.They are found only in an isolated region along the Nigeria/Cameroon border.
The images were captured by Remote camera trap monitoring by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in the Mbe Mountains early this year.
"These images are an indication that Cross River gorillas are successfully reproducing and populations recovering as a result of field based protection efforts," WCS said.
Since 2012, no Cross River gorillas have been recorded or reported killed in Nigeria. Extremely shy of humans due to a long history of persecution, they live in the remotest parts of their range and are rarely spotted. They were once presumed extinct in Nigeria and only "rediscovered" in the late 1980s.
The WCS is working closely with a community organisation, the Conservation Association of the Mbe Mountains, as well as authorities in Nigeria's Cross River state to protect the primates.
"It is extremely exciting to see so many young Cross River gorillas – an encouraging indication that these gorillas are now well protected and reproducing successfully, after previous decades of hunting. While hunters in the region may no longer target gorillas, the threat of hunting remains, and we need to continue to improve the effectiveness of our protection efforts," Inaoyom Imong, Director of WCS Nigeria's Cross River Landscape said.