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09 December 2013

Cross River Gorillas spotted in the proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary

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Cross River Gorilla

It was on October 26, 2013 at about 11:55 am that a team of Biologists from the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) and a Volunteer from Germany spotted a Cross River Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) in the proposed Tofala Hill Sanctuary hitting a tree trunk in reaction to the chanting of chimpanzees which were just nearby. This event happened when the team was conducting regular bio-monitoring of great apes and other large mammals in the proposed sanctuary. During this period it was noticed that there has been an increased in the number of gorilla nest encountered as compared to previous months.

118 gorilla signs were recorded with feeding signs as the majority (61.9%). One direct sighting of a gorilla was made which is a rare case in this area. Most of the signs encountered were in altitudes of between 500-800m above sea level. 58.5% of gorilla signs were encountered in very steep slope, 54.2% in closed canopy and 53.8% in open visibility. 84.6% nests constructed were ground nest.

The significant increase in the number of gorilla nests is a sign of success of the conservation effort being put in place by ERuDeF. However there is still a major concern, for example clearing of large forest areas for farmland in the mid-eastern part of the proposed sanctuary. The speedy upgrading of the status of the proposed THWS remain the best and the most prompt decision to save the rich and unique biodiversity of this area.

Through its International Volunteering Program, ERuDeF receives international conservation Volunteers who spend two-eight weeks supporting in raising awareness and biomonitoring of the gorillas. This Program is a collaborative program between the African Conservation Foundation, African Impact and ERuDeF.

By Enokenwa Allen Tabi