Rare Gorillas Spied Feasting on Figs

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December 22, 2009—See what could be the first professional footage of elusive Cross River gorillas, the most endangered subspecies of gorilla, filmed recently in Cameroon.

© 2009 National Geographic; video © NDR Naturfilm

Unedited Transcript

They are remote, and live in the densest of jungle. Researchers and a film crew spent weeks searching for them, and finally captured them on video.

They are Cross River gorillas, the rarest of the four subspecies of gorilla. The Wildlife Conservation Society says this is the first professional footage ever recorded of these primates in the wild.

Listed as critically endangered by IUCNs Red List, the Cross River gorilla numbers perhaps fewer than 300 across its entire range in Cameroon and Nigeria.

This video was taken in Cameroons Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary, home to an estimated 16 gorillas.

Researchers had staked out what they believed were some favorite fig trees of the gorillas, and recorded them some 30-40 feet up in the trees, feasting away.

Through the years, WCS researchers have developed an effective non-invasive monitoring system to keep track of the gorillas without disturbing them or getting them used to human presence. The gorillas are very wary of humans.

WCS maintains that while many gorillas are threatened by poachers, these gorillas in Kagwene have been protected by the local belief that the apes are people, and therefore should not be hunted or eaten.

But elsewhere, the Cross River gorillas are threatened by hunting, as well as habitat destruction.

Its hoped this new and rare video will help raise awareness about this little-known species, and encourage further protection efforts, like the creation of the Kagwene Sanctuary, which happened just last year.

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