Cross River Gorilla Conservation
Inhabiting the rugged highlands on the Nigeria-Cameroon border, the Cross River gorilla is the most critically endangered of all the African apes and one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world. These animals are threatened by both habitat loss and hunting for the bushmeat trade.
This project is led by Dr. Rich Bergl, the N.C. Zoo's Curator of Conservation and Research. Rich has had significant involvement with conservation research on the Cross River gorilla and is leading development of the N.C. Zoo’s project focused on improving the conservation of this unique and endangered ape. The focus of the project is on providing data, equipment and training to non-governmental organizations and government wildlife conservation staff. Currently, wildlife managers lack the tools and capacity to adequately monitor the Cross River gorilla population. Even the most basic tools such as reliable maps of the gorilla areas are not available. These deficits have prevented comprehensive quantitative surveys of the gorillas. Despite significant effort, the total distribution of the population is not known and the relative importance of existing habitat corridors is unclear. The N.C. Zoo Cross River gorilla project will develop a geographic information system (GIS, or computerized mapping database) for gorilla conservation, create detailed maps of the gorilla areas using satellite imagery and aerial photography for use by field staff, develop a gorilla monitoring system to be used by all NGO (non-governmental organizations) and government staff involved with Cross River gorilla conservation, and provide training in the application of these tools. Doing so will allow for better protection of the Cross River population. This project receives additional support from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.