By Eyo Charles (This story was culled from All Africa)
Calabar — The Country Director of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Mr. Andrew Dunn, has made a shocking revelation that there are only 100 gorillas left in the whole of Nigeria. He warned that if nothing was done quickly, that number will be depleted.
Mr Dunn spoke in Calabar when the revised regional action plan for the conservation of the Cross River gorilla was launched.
Dunn said: “It is estimated that only 100 Cross River gorillas survive in Nigeria today, with an additional 200 in the adjacent forest of Cameroon. The reason for their dire predicament is widespread hunting for the bush meat trade, although forest loss due to farming is also a growing problem threatening the habit corridors that link the remaining gorilla refuges.
“The revised regional action plan for the conservation of the Cross River gorilla 2014 – 2019 represents the consensus of experts who met at a workshop in 2012 in Limbe, Cameroon, including representatives of forestry and welfare conservation agencies from Nigeria and Cameroon, local and international NGO’s and university – based researchers.”
The WCS director also disclosed in a keynote address that “the Cross River gorilla is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN,” adding that “the Cross River gorilla is the most threatened of four gorilla species in Africa found only in the limited mountains which straddle the border between Nigeria and Cameroon.”
Findings by forestry experts have shown that in Nigeria the species are restricted to the forest of Boki, Okwangwo division of Cross River National Park managed by the National Park Service; Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary, managed by the Cross River State Forestry Commission and Mbe mountains, an area of community forest, managed by the Conservation Society of the Mbe Mountains, CSMM with support from wildlife conservation society”.
Speaking at the event, Governor Liyel Imoke emphasised that efforts will be made to see that wild life, including gorillas, are protected and re-populated.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government Mr. Mike Aniah, he called on stakeholders and Non-Governmental Organisations to join hands to preserve wild life within and outside the state.
He government would discourage local people living near the forests in the state from killing gorillas and other animals.
“Government will look at providing local populations whose livelihood depends on the forests with alternative employment so that they may no longer tamper with the forests and kill the animals. This is why we solicit the support of NGOs and other stakeholders because it is not easy to stop a habit that was passed down from generations”, he said.