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Gorilla gorilla diehli

Cross River Gorilla

The Cross River gorilla is a Critically Endangered subspecies of the western gorilla. They live in small areas of highland forest that span the border of Nigeria and Cameroon. With the gorillas living in rugged forests and being cautious of human presence, it’s been difficult for researchers to study their population and distribution.

The situation

Hidden signs of the elusive Cross River gorilla  

Now, more than ever before, the Cross River gorilla faces threats associated with habitat loss and hunting. It is estimated that there are at most 300 Cross River gorillas left in the wild. Being wary of humans, most of the information on Cross River gorilla population size and range has come from observations of signs left by the gorillas, such as nests.  Cross River gorillas are scattered in at least 11 groups across the lowland montane forests and rainforests of Cameroon and Nigeria, an area of 3,000 square miles. In other words, a small population, spread over a large area, and highly fragmented.  

Our work

In collaboration with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), we will support a graduate scholarship programme hosted in the University of Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria. In addition, partnership with the  Centre for Biodiversity Conservation Research (CBCR) in Ghana will allow for knowledge sharing of the practices that create successful community conservation initiatives.  

Through the Cross River Gorilla Initiative, we will support the next generation of conservation leaders in West Africa by supporting graduate students who will conduct research relevant to the conservation of the Cross River gorilla. Through this we will facilitate greater conservation impact in Africa by improving the quality and effectiveness of leaders of local organizations that work with communities to protect their land, natural resources and livelihoods.   These are conservation leaders who are rooted in their communities, landscapes, and social and political contexts, and who can develop new solutions, locally-based conservation models, and national movements that collectively have the potential to address today’s conservation challenges.  

We will do this by: 

  • Supporting graduate students to conduct research on/in/applicable to the conservation of Cross River Gorilla to serve as a platform for investing in a new generation of conservation leaders in Nigeria.  
  • Support student research to engage and exchange knowledge with forest communities to facilitate community support for, community engagement in and community benefit as a result of the protection of the CRG and its habitat. 
  • Facilitating beneficial exchange and co-creation of knowledge with respect to active community conservation approaches between Ghana and Nigeria.  

Wilder Institute, NCF, and the University of Calabar to discuss in detail the concept of the gorilla conservation project and roles of partners in the successful implementation of the project​

Our conservation impact

Through this partnership, we strive to provide opportunities for the conservation leaders of tomorrow to broaden their knowledge and perception on sound environmental practices, while supporting the protection of the Cross River gorilla and their habitat. At the same time, this initiative will help to build on the knowledge of Cross River gorillas which will support their conservation.

Did you know?

Cross River gorillas closely resemble Western lowland gorillas, differing in their smaller skull to body ratio and tooth dimensions. To date, there is only one recorded Cross River gorilla in captivity, held at the Limbe Wildlife Center. Although it seems like a small number of gorillas in captivity, the pet trade has posed a large threat to other species of gorillas in the past, and will likely endanger the Cross River gorilla.


Together with the following partners and collaborators, we’re working to secure a future for the Cross River gorilla.

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