Berg Gorilla: The Gorillas of the Ebo Forest, Cameroon – 30 april 2020

Cameroon is an important country for both gorillas and chimpanzees. To the south of the Sanaga River, western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) exist, often sympatrically with central chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes).

 

To the forested region northwest of the Sanaga River the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes vellerosus) is present (Gonder et al. 1997), as well as a small remnant population of Cross River gorillas (Gorilla gorilla diehli) peppered along the Cameroon-Nigerian border area (Morgan & Sunderland-Groves 2004). The Cross River gorillas are separated from gorillas south of the Sanaga River by c. 250 km and appear to be morphologically (Sarmiento & Oates 2000) if not genetically (Clifford et al. 2004) distinct.

 

In November 2002 a "new" population of gorillas was discovered in the Ebo Forest, less than 100 km north of the Sanaga River (Morgan et al. 2003). Prior to this, the only indications of gorilla presence were nests (Dowsett & Dowsett-Lemaire 2001; Oates et al. 2003). Genetic analyses are underway to establish the affinities of the Ebo population but their geographical range (intermediate to the ranges of the two known gorilla subspecies in Cameroon) suggests that in biogeographical terms they are an important population.

 

The "discovery" of the small gorilla population led to the establishment of the Ebo Forest Research Station by the Zoological Society of San Diego's Center for Conservation and Research for Endangered Species (CRES) which was created under Government authorization in April 2005 with cooperation from both WCS Cameroon Biodiversity Programme and WWF Cameroon Coastal Forests Programme. Since that time, there has been a permanent presence of researchers in the forest, albeit limited (until 2007) to the area within 10-20 km of the Ebo Forest Research Station.

 

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