Of the four subspecies of gorilla, the Cross River gorilla is the rarest with numbers fewer than 300 individuals throughout its range. In 2007 an action plan was published that used this particular great ape as a “flagship” species as a means to protect and conserve one of Africa’s biodiversity hotspots.

Over the past several years, conservationists have made achievements towards this goal, including an improved understanding of available gorilla range and expansion of protected areas. Future prospects for the world’s rarest gorilla have improved, but local and international partnerships are still necessary.

The IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group and WCS developed a new action plan that calls for enhanced protection of the gorillas and increased enforcement of wildlife laws, among other requests. Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, Vice President of WCS’s Species Conservation Program, said: “A crucial component to all future conservation activities will be the continued support of local communities throughout Cross River gorilla range in both Nigeria and Cameroon. On the international level, the survival of these primates will depend on the sustained efforts of conservationists working in tandem with government agencies. Our success so far indicates we are headed in the right direction.”

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