The world's most endangered great ape, the Cross River Gorilla, is getting a helping hand.
The Wildlife Conservation Society, the Government of Cameroon, and other partners have collaborated to create 261-square mile Takamanda National Park, adjacent to Nigeria's Cross River National Park. Together, the preserve will help to protect 115 gorillas -- about one-third of those known to be living in the wild.
Forest elephants, chimpanzees, and drills -- another rare primate -- also call the preserve home.
There are four gorilla subspecies -- the Cross River, western lowland, eastern lowland (also known as Grauers gorillas) and mountain gorillas -- all of them critically endangered from habitat loss and hunting, and none more so than the Cross River gorilla. The U.S. taxpayer has supported conservation of the gorillas, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has invested $13 million since 2001 from the Grate Apes Conservation Fund Act, which expires in 2010. Visitors to the Bronx Zoo's Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit also help fund conservation of gorillas in Africa.
Since beginning field research into the Cross River gorilla in 1999, the Wildlife Conservation Society has made some interesting discoveries, including finding the first evidence of tool use among gorillas (they test the waters with a stick to check depth before crossing) and they also recently documented the use of weaponry to repel humans (they toss sticks and clumps of grass at the intruders).
Although originally discovered in the early 1900s, the Cross River gorilla was thought to be extinct until its recent rediscovery in the 1980s.
For more information about the gorilla, including an action plan for safeguarding it, visit the Wildlife Conservation Society Web site.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.