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Riveting Video Of Shy, Critically Endangered African Gorillas

Wildlife Conservation Society/YouTube

The Cross River gorilla is one of the world's most endangered animals, with less than 300 of the apes remaining. They're hard for researchers to find, and at one point, the species was believed extinct until a few were spotted in the 1980s in their traditional habitat along the Cameroon-Nigeria border.

Now there's new video of eight of these great apes strolling together through jungle in Cameroon's tiny Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary, thanks to researchers who shared the footage with the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The best part comes at :39 seconds when a huge silverback thumps his chest forcefully and then rushes the camera. He darts past, out of sight, leaving the unmanned camera untouched. The WCS says the researchers, who rarely see the apes, were 'startled' when they reviewed the tapes.

Cross River gorillas are a subspecies of Western Gorillas, and they're listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Most endangered great apes don't live in protected areas, and even if they do, they still get hurt; watch after the silverback charges through the frame and you'll see another gorilla whose right hand is missing. The WCS suspects this gorilla lost the hand in a snare set by poachers.

Poaching has reportedly decreased since the gorilla sanctuary was created in 2008, according to Scientific American, but the guarded park is extremely small: it's not much more than seven square miles.

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