December 11, 2007 — In the wake of a study that
documented for the first time the use of weaponry by Cross River
gorillas to ward off threats by humans, the Wildlife Conservation
Society has announced new field surveys to better protect this most
endangered great ape.
The study, published earlier this year in the Journal of
Primatology, found several instances of gorillas throwing sticks and
clumps of grass when threatened by people. Gorillas usually flee and
rarely charge when encountered by humans.
Cross River gorillas are restricted to Nigeria and Cameroon. They
number only around 300 individuals, making them the most endangered of
the four gorilla sub-species.
The Wildlife Conservation Society, which has studied Cross River
gorillas since 1999, will begin new field surveys next month in an
attempt to catalogue all potential gorilla habitat.
Earlier this year, the Wildlife Conservation Society released an
action plan to safeguard Cross River gorillas that included creating
additional protected areas and raising awareness of this little known
great ape. The observations of weapon-use took place in the proposed
Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary in Cameroon — one of the new protected areas
recommended in the report.
In 2005 the Wildlife Conservation Society documented the first case
of tool use among gorillas when researchers discovered individuals
using sticks to check the depth of streams before crossing them.
The surveys are being funded in part by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Source : Wildlife Conservation Society